BOONSBORO, Md. — A self-described "older, white man" is suing a small-town restaurant in federal and state court, alleging Dan's Restaurant and Taphouse is discriminating against him because he's old and white.
The owners of bar and restaurant in downtown Boonesboro, Maryland say it wasn't discrimination. They say they banned Neal Glessner from the bar and restaurant because he's disrespectful and harasses their workers.
The battle has exacerbated the partisan divide. By some accounts, the fight has devolved into a proxy war between the "Maga Crowd" and the "Woke Mob." Some here see an aggrieved white man hammering a small business that's now struggling to fend off lawsuits in state and federal court. Others see vindictive restaurant owners discriminating against a long-time pillar of small-town Boonsboro.
Dan's Restaurant and Tap Room was closed Monday with a sign posted saying it was to give the staff a much needed day of rest. "They tried to bury us," it says on a window. "They don't know we're seeds."
The Hagerstown Herald Mail obtained police body cam video of the incident a year ago that sparked the battle. "He treated my staff with disrespect, and he's refusing to" leave, a manager tells the officer as he walks into the bar.
The officer approaches Joseph Michael, then a deputy state's attorney for Washington County. He's now a circuit court judge. "I'm happy to go," said Michael. "But I just need to know if I'm banned or not?" he tells the officer. "Yes, you are banned," the manager responds.
It's not on the tape, but in the lawsuits, Glessner alleges that after he complained about waiting 40 minutes for a to-go order, a manager told his friend, "All of you old white men act like you own everything. Just get the f--- out. Neither of you are welcome here." Glessner had already walked out.
The federal lawsuit alleges racial discrimination against white people, saying the same thing has happened to a half dozen other white men.
The incident blew up on social media, and the owners posted that “Mr. Glessner was asked to leave our restaurant due to repeated occurrences of disruptive behavior against members of our team. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
"Anyone who thinks this is about BLM, Trump, or any other political issue is ignoring the facts to promote a political agenda that is not mine," Glessner said Monday.
Fewer than a dozen protesters picketed outside the restaurant Saturday. The event was organized by a Glessner supporter named Shawn Porter.
"Mr. Glessner's co-conspirator, Shawn Porter, is a notorious far-right agitator who is pursuing this vendetta based upon personal animosity over our political differences," said Charlotte Aufdem-Brinke, co-owner of the restaurant. "Mr. Glessner and Mr. Porter were the lead organizers of what can only be described as a failed protest against Dan's this past weekend. Their followers didn't show up, but Dan's customers certainly did. We had our best weekend in months," she wrote in a text.
But both sides say they’ve received death threats and wonder what it will take to turn down the temperature here.
>Read the lawsuits below: