In the most recent controversy, symptomatic of a historic divide between liberals and conservatives in the United States, Sarah Huckabee Sanders was apparently the target of a Virginia restaurant owner’s scorn. Sarah Sanders, White House press secretary for Donald Trump, claims she politely left the restaurant called Red Hen after owner Stephanie Wilkinson asked her to leave. Sanders promptly tweeted out the name of the restaurant to her Twitter followers, a following which totals approximately 3 million.
Wilkinson’s identity was exposed online by numerous online groups and distributed, a practice known as doxxing. Also, Wilkinson recently resigned from a nonprofit Virginia business group, and her restaurant was heavily protested by supporters of the president.
Today, as protests were underway outside the independently owned restaurant, things got exceptionally ugly. Local news station NBC4i reports that a man by the name of Reginald Scott Lee was arrested outside the restaurant for littering and disorderly conduct, both of which are misdemeanors.
Those charges, however, don’t adequately describe the bizarre allegations against Lee, which include the Trump supporter expressing his right to protest and defend the president’s honor by hurling chicken feces at a local restaurant. Photos of the scene show the chicken poop on the ground in front of Red Hen. While clever signage and chanting are common at such politically charged protests, Virginia police seem to agree that tossing fecal matter is not protected under the right to peaceful protest, as guaranteed by the First Amendment.
Prior shaming of Red Hen included President Trump tweeting out not just to 3 million but ostensibly to all Americans his personal view of the restaurant’s cleanliness.
“The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”
This tweet caught the attention of small business owners, who worried the president’s words may have landed atop Red Hen as the nuclear bomb of negative Yelp reviews. Donald Trump, who touts a posh lifestyle and projects an image of financial success, claims billionaire status. Quartz found the tweet to be a grim warning to small businesses across America, a communication that disrespecting Trump’s administration will result in power moves like this, ruining livelihoods.
Donald Trump ammased a loyal following as he rose to power. Trump supporters gathered in huge crowds to see the president speak, chanting for the imprisonment of Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton, and assaulting dissenters present at the rally on a regular basis. While tweeting is protected under the First Amendment, many are convinced the tweets from Sanders, and later from Trump, are clear, yet unspoken messages from leaders to their followers to take care of the situation. Proponents of the Trump administration find no such correlation.
During the presidential election, before a huge crowd, Donald Trump asked Russia, point blank, to hack Democrat emails. Under the image of simply being cheeky, accusations of serious ethical concerns were dismissed by Trump. Today, Robert Mueller and his council are actively investigating the Trump campaign for collusion with Russia during that election.
Whether or not Trump actually intends to send such ambiguous signals during public appearances, or in tweets, is unknown, but remains a heated debate between Democrats and Republicans.