Cheesecake Factory employees harassed black man for wearing MAGA hat, witnesses say
MIAMI (KUTV) — On Mother's Day, Cheesecake Factory employees in Florida harassed and intimidated a customer for wearing a Make America Great Again hat, according to witnesses, as reported by The Daily Wire.
The alleged victim, a 22-year-old black man named Eugenior Joseph, went to dinner with his girlfriend's family at the restaurant on Sunday. Multiple witnesses say the harassment began soon after sitting down.
According to witnesses and Joseph's own account, an employee walked over to Joseph and pointed at his hat, signaling other employees, The Daily Wire reports.
"Her finger was literally on top of his head, we were all looking at her like, 'what is happening?' " a witness told The Daily Wire. "She was pointing at him, calling her other coworkers, telling them to look at this guy wearing a Make America Great Again hat."
A dozen or so employees then approached the table and made comments about Joseph's MAGA hat, some reportedly saying they wanted to punch him in the face. Witnesses allege that some of the employees referred to Joseph as the N-word in the conversations among themselves.
"So then all the employees started standing there, saying things out loud, like, 'I'm going to knock his head in so hard his hat's going to come off," the witness continued, as reported by The Daily Wire.
One of the employees reportedly gave Joseph intimidating looks and made aggressive hand gestures to indicate his readiness to engage in a fist fight.
"He got behind me and another coworker came by and they were staring at each other and he fist bumped him and then he started looking at me, balling his fists, smacking his fists, trying to scare me," Joseph informed The Daily Wire.
As one witness described it, the group of employees looked like a lynch mob.
When Joseph got up to use the restroom, employees continued to intimidate and mock him.
"I got up and went to the restroom, my girlfriend followed me, and as we were walking back, a group of [the employees] came out from the back and they just started clapping and yelling, and just screaming things at me," Joseph said, as reported by The Daily Wire.
A witness verified Joseph's claims, stating that the employees in the kitchen would boo Joseph loudly as he walked by.
According to another witness, an elderly woman felt so intimidated and the event was so traumatic that she had to take medication to calm herself down, The Daily Wire reports.
As the family exited the business, multiple witnesses report that the manager followed them out to speak with them them regarding the employees' behavior. The manager reportedly told them that some of the employees admitted to offending behavior, and that one of the employees was even sent home as a result.
When the family left the Cheesecake Factory, they encountered police who had been called to the scene, The Daily Wire reports. They documented the incident in a police report, but no charges have been filed as of yet, witnesses state.
The Cheesecake Factory responded to the alleged harassment in a statement:
No guest should ever feel unwelcomed in one of our restaurants and we are taking this matter very seriously. Upon learning of this incident, we immediately apologized to the guests in person. We are conducting an investigation and will take the appropriate corrective action.
The Cheesecake Factory, which is located inside the Dadeland Mall in Miami, announced afterwards that "the individuals involved in the incident have been suspended pending the results of our investigation."
The Daily Wire reports viewing multiple photos and video clips which validate the claims made by witnesses regarding the number of employees surrounding the table. One photo shows the employee whom witnesses allege made threatening hand gestures fist bumping another employee, which multiple witnesses confirm.
Another video reportedly shows a young girl crying at the table, seemingly frightened by the hostile environment created by the Cheesecake Factory employees.
Another video reviewed by The Daily Wire shows the family leaving the restaurant and speaking to police officers.
"The video shows Joseph in a state of disbelief over what had just unfolded as other witnesses were visibly angry over the way he had been treated," The Daily Wire writes.
Joseph says he has not heard from anyone at The Cheesecake Factory regarding their experience.
The 22-year-old man says he wears the hat because he thinks President Trump "is a really good president." He says he is disappointed that a black person cannot wear a hat to support the president without being harassed, The Daily Wire reports.