A Virginia coffee shop owner was abused by a racist customer after she asked him to wear a mask.
Lily Damtew reopened her Abyssinia Market & Coffee House on Saturday after a lengthy coronavirus shutdown, and said her first customer wore a mask, as she did, but the second customer did not, reported ALXNow.
“Right after they left, another guy came in not wearing a mask,” said Damtew, who was also wearing a face shield at the time. “I told him that we have a sign on the door saying, ‘Please wear a mask,’ but he said, ‘No, I don’t have to wear a mask.’”
Alexandria city officials have issued an executive order requiring anyone over 10 to wear face coverings in public buildings, but Damtew said the man started ranting and using profanity.
Damtew offered the man a mask, and he put it over his eyes and wandered blindly around the store asking, “Is this okay?”
“I told him I have a lot of seniors as customers, young kids, and I have a family at home,” said Damtew, an Ethiopian immigrant. “I don’t want to put them at risk. I told him, ‘It’s my business, and I have a right to ask you to leave, the right to refuse service.’ He went on and on about why it’s not necessary with ‘you people’ this ‘you people’ that. I was scared.”
The store owner then ordered the man out of the store, and he spit at her and cursed.
“He spat on my feet and called me another B-word and F-word,” Damtew said.
Damtew called police and followed the man up the street a bit, but he came back after she returned to the store and locked up at the urging of police.
“This guy came back with a bowl with some kind of food or something,” Damtew said. “He threw everything on my window and the tables outside.”
Police said they arrested the man later, but they haven’t released any information about him or the charges he might face.
“I’m pressing charges, ” Damtew said. “He shouldn’t have spit and he shouldn’t have gone back and vandalized property. We tried to bleach it but we still have stains on the ground.”
Damtew said the incident left her shaken, and she’s keeping the store closed for now.
“We’re not open today, I just don’t feel comfortable,” Damtew said. “He’s still in this neighborhood and I don’t know if he’s going to come back. We’ve been there almost four years and never had any kind of incident. It’s shocking.”