Fifth and Federal owner apologizes for tweet after his building was damaged in Sunday night protest

Local News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — The owner of Fifth and Federal Station apologized for a tweet Monday morning following a protest that caused a lot of damage to his building Sunday night.

On Monday, June 1, people spent most of the day picking up the pieces of the restaurant. The windows were boarded up after being shattered by rocks and bricks when a peaceful protest escalated near the location on Sunday, May 31.

Both the protest and the apology come after a Twitter post from Fifth and Federal got a lot of attention. The restaurant replied to a tweet from Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. on Wednesday, May 27 in support of his call for face masks with an image from Gov. Ralph Northam’s old yearbook, showing a man in blackface standing next to a person dressed as a member of the KKK.

“It was a mistake. It was a foolish mistake to have ever posted it,” said Josh Read, the owner of Fifth and Federal.

Read says he is sorry for the tweet and feels regret for it.

“It’s just foolish for us to be blinded by the pandemic and not see how badly it hurt people.”

Read says the tweet was meant to voice his frustration with the governor.

“We were looking at it as what it was as a action towards Northam that we were blinded by what the actual racial portion of it,” said Read.

Therefore, what started as a peaceful protest was held near his business Sunday night. Police say officers were trying to get people out of the street and make sure nobody was blocking traffic, but then things escalated.

“Several of the protesters started committing criminal acts, to include vandalism of at least two different properties in that area,” said Lynchburg Police Chief Ryan Zuidema.

Eventually things died down, but two officers were still injured and two people were arrested Sunday night.

“Although we did have two injuries they were, in the broad scheme of things, relatively minor. And based on what took place last night, with gunshots being fired into our officer’s vehicles I’m just so grateful our officers went home safely,” said Chief Zuidema.

In response to Sunday night’s violence, Lynchburg city leaders issued a local state of emergency and put a curfew from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. to start Tuesday, June 2.

“My first and foremost role as police chief here is to ensure the safety and well-being of our community,” said Chief Zuidema. “We felt in the based on the actions of last night that was in our best interest.”

The Lynchburg City Council voted to make the curfew mandatory. However, since it was originally announced as a voluntary curfew Monday afternoon, police were asked to be lenient with it Monday night and really start enforcing it Tuesday night.

As it stands now, the ordinance allowing authorities to enact the curfew will last until further notice.

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