A deli in Highland Park, Ill., is scrambling to delete its social media presence and negative reviews online after a co-owner sent out a racist tweet about the Las Vegas shooting.
The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred in Las Vegas Sunday night, when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a country music festival from his 32nd-floor hotel room, killing over 50 people and wounding nearly 500 others.
Greg Morelli, co-owner of Max’s Deli in the Chicago area, wasted no time. Around 7:30 a.m. Monday morning, he sent out a message from his personal Twitter page that read:
“Soon as I heard it was country music, I felt relief. White people shooting white people isn’t terror… it’s community outreach. #LasVegas.”
He was responding to another Twitter user’s comment that said, “The lone wolf. The local shooter. The gunman. Any and everything, but terrorist. Wonder why.”
The tweet was soon deleted, but scores of outraged individuals started posting on the deli’s Yelp review page, leaving one-star reviews along with their comments of disgust, and calling for a boycott of the business.
The backlash was so fierce that even Yelp is now scrubbing comments. A warning at the top of the page says: “This business is being monitored by Yelp’s Support team for content related to media reports.” A pop-up window also appears over the comments section informing users of an “active cleanup alert.”
Morelli later posted an apology on the deli’s Facebook page, saying, “It was a dumb joke and it didn’t work. I own it. It was stupid. It was seven in the morning and I was stressed out and freaked out by the shooting. I was trying to participate, and all I did was put my foot in my mouth.”
Morelli expressed frustration that the death toll from mass shootings in the U.S. keeps rising and nothing meaningful seems to result from the horror.
“How many shootings are we going to let happen in this country without having a conversation about it?” he asked.
“We live in a time of mass shootings. This is my mass apology … The thoughts have not worked. The prayers have not worked. What lead me to think Twitter was a good idea is beyond me. I simply do not know what to do about the shootings. Truly, I’m lost!” Morelli wrote.
“I tried to participate. But all I did is put my foot in my mouth. These mass shootings have me freaked out. I’m sorry,” he added.
In his apology, the store owner admitted he voted for Hillary Clinton, but claimed he is rooting for President Trump to succeed. He assured gun owners, “I do not want to take your guns. It’s up to you to decide what to do with your guns.”
However, the apology did not go over well, with the backlash continuing; now, the deli’s Facebook page has disappeared, as well.
This isn’t the first time Morelli has caused outrage, however. In August, following the violence in Charlottesville, Va., he drew and published a cartoon trying to connect the “Alt-Right” to Nazis, making Trump look like Hitler. He posted that cartoon to the deli’s Facebook page, too.
“I have a Jewish deli, I am a Jewish man,” Morelli told the Chicago Tribune at the time. “I am the first person that’s going to get a brick through the window if this plague is not stopped immediately.”
He added, “I do not regret assigning symbolism to hatred. I do not regret being trashed on Facebook. That said, it hurt.”
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