OK Cafe Owner: We’re Under Police Protection, Being Monitored by Homeland Security

'It seems that we have found our company in an unusual—and perhaps dangerous—situation' but 'if loving America is wrong—I don’t wanna be right,' Susan DeRose sent in an email to customers Saturday.
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Susan DeRose, co-owner of Liberty House, the restaurant group behind OK Cafe, on Saturday sent an email to the company’s subscribers stating that both she and her husband Richard are “under police protection and OK Café is being monitored by Homeland Security.”

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The email, which is published in its entirety below, arrives nearly two weeks after DeRose hung a banner at OK Cafe amid Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests spurred by the in-police-custody-death of George Floyd that stated, “Lives That Matter Are Made With Positive Purpose.”

DeRose’s cryptic banner was met with swift backlash including an open letter penned by Kilpatrick Townsend’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer pleading with Atlantans to boycott Liberty House.

OK Cafe wasn’t the only Liberty House eatery with such a banner.

Nearby Blue Ridge Grill adorned a banner that stated, “Law & Order = Peace,” a message that has been tweeted multiple times by President Donald Trump in rebuke of otherwise peaceful BLM protests.

“The Department is not providing [DeRose] anything,” a spokesperson for the APD Saturday told What Now Atlanta (WNA) in an email.

“It is possible she is paying an off duty officer. Many businesses do.”

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security on Saturday did not immediately respond to WNA’s request for comment.

It seems that we have found our company in an unusual—and perhaps dangerous—situation. Richard & I have been under police protection and OK Café is being monitored by Homeland Security.

Wow! How did it get to this?

For those who know us, you’ll know that we are not here just to make money. For 41 years we’ve served up Southern hospitality and helped showcase and identify our Southern culture. Our aim was—and is—to make Atlanta a world-class city. Liberty House is part of the fabric of Atlanta.

Since we’ve never been attacked before, I’d like to make our position clear:

On June 7th, a few days after the destructive riots in our city center and throughout Buckhead, some people felt it right to organize a march down West Paces Ferry Road to “bring the people of Buckhead out from behind their screens” (the Marcher’s cry).

By June 7th, OK Café and Blue Ridge Grill had only reopened 4 days before and like all others in the shopping center, we weighed the dangers of looting or harm to our staff and customers, so we closed again. The marchers took over our parking lot anyways, so no customers could have parked. The marchers were mostly peaceful—that day.

For our part, we put up two signs at OK Café and served tea. As is our 1st amendment right to do. The banner read: “Lives that Matter Are Made with Positive Purpose.”

Blue Ridge Grill had a tent and served lemonade. Their sign read: “Law & Order = Peace,” and Marvin Gaye’s lyrics, “Picket lines and picket signs, don’t punish me with brutality, talk to me, so you can see, what’s going on.”

And lastly, a red, white, and blue sign draped the front of OK Café on Northside Parkway.
Loud and proud it read: “OK Café LOVES America.”

Since then we have received hundreds of negative reviews online. We have been told, kneel, or go out of business.

If loving America is wrong—I don’t wanna be right. And our great and mighty team stands with us on this point.

Susan DeRose
President
Liberty House Restaurant Corp.

Here’s our full coverage of OK Cafe’s banner situation in chronological order:

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak (CJS) is the Founder of What Now Media Group, Inc., the publisher of What Now Atlanta and What Now Los Angeles.
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JustPrefect
3 months ago

What in the actual…

Sp 60
3 months ago

Good for them.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago

One of the great things about this country is that we have the right to express our opinions– through the written/spoken word, art, music, and peaceful protests, etc. We absolutely don’t have the right to threaten, intimidate, or cause harm to a person or their property. All citizens need to believe that they won’t be unnecessarily targeted by police or any other part of the law enforcement/justice system (obviously that still needs quite a bit of work).   Susan and Richard have been very outspoken with their opinions. With that comes consequences and responsibility. Their thoughts do not align with… Read more »

Lester
3 months ago

Sounds like they are playing the victim card. Are we to take them at their word?
 

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  Lester

Well when your life and property are threatened, I’d say that makes you a victim.
Freedom of speech shouldn’t make someone feel like a victim.

FFT
3 months ago

If only the business owners whose lives and property were destroyed during the Tulsa massacre could’ve been afforded the protections these folks enjoy. Terribly sad.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  FFT

Yes, you’re correct.

JustPrefect
3 months ago

Actually, she sounds like the guy who shot his wife in the back from the backseat while driving in Midtown because of protests days earlier in Buckhead and something something Edgewood something BLM. Any freedoms of speech directed at her for her big freedom of speech sign and subsequent whining is her own fault, and no one is coming to hurt her. So, yeah, victim card.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  JustPrefect

I have no idea what you were trying to say in the first half of your comment.   Any freedoms of speech directed at her for her big freedom of speech sign and subsequent whining is her own fault — I totally agree. From a business perspective, I think it was a totally foolish thing she did. And I have said with freedom of speech comes responsibility and consequences.   and no one is coming to hurt her.  — You sound pretty sure of yourself on that one. I’m not sure why the Department of Homeland Security would involve themselves… Read more »

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago

Susan’s words–

I did it because threats against us were called in yesterday. The several calls said a march was planned next week to take down OK Cafe and burn the flag. They were considered credible threats and home security were monitoring.

JustPrefect
3 months ago

All I’m sure of is it sounds dubious. The guy who shot his wife used the excuse of supposed fear of BLM related protests to justify why he had a gun out and “accidentally” killed his wife (spoiler: it was a lie and he was convicted of murder). It sounds like the same fear-mongering and she is specifically concerned about talk of “a march”. The marches around town have been vastly peaceful. APD has said they were not providing city resources, and “monitored by DHS” seems different from “protected by”. Dubious.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  JustPrefect

Yeah, I remember the guy that shot his wife.
I guess the correlation with a BLM march didn’t register with me.
As far as Susan, you might be right. People do weird stuff when they’re cornered.
 
To be clear I’m not trying to stick up for, or make excuses for Susan’s
commentary– but I believe she has the right, like anyone else, to speak her mind (whether we like what she says, or not).

Drew
3 months ago

Anyone can make themselves a victim. Susan is an example of that.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  Drew

You’re right that anyone can make themselves a victim.

yoyoyo
3 months ago
Reply to  Lester

“None of us is free, if one of us is chained.” Solomon Burke

FFT
3 months ago

When was the country ever non-toxic?

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  FFT

I was merely stating my opinion.
And of course you’re entitled to your own opinion.

YesMe
3 months ago

Well that was the last nail in the proverbial coffin…

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago

This is an amazing image!
 

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Garland
3 months ago

Now they are the victim. I swear these people are just evil to the core. Disgusting!!!

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  Garland

Evil, how so?
You don’t agree with them, so that makes them evil?
Geez…

eRosewater
2 months ago

I’m might not say “evil,” but starting controversy (by, for instance, printing out a huge political banner) and then playing the victim card when people react is pretty universally considered a low-life move.

I.P.30307since1987!
2 months ago
Reply to  eRosewater

I think calling her ‘evil’ is a bit dramatic. There are so many people/governments/hate groups/drug cartels out there that are truly evil.   It’s quite possible that she’s playing the victim (also dramatic), and it’s also possible that she has had physical threats against her and her property. It was a stupid move on her part, but physically threatening someone for being stupid, or a low-life is totally wrong.   Honestly the whole thing seems kinda like ‘small town’ drama– that she totally created. Not sure what she thought she was going to accomplish by all of this, but I… Read more »

West Side
3 months ago

She’s exaggerating and definitely playing the victim! I was there for the June 7 march and the parking lot wasn’t blocked, and there were plenty of remaining places for any customers to park; the parking lot is HUGE! Yes, people parked their cars at the shopping center, but for her to say the lot was blocked is a complete lie! I overheard a few Publix managers say it was a lot of cars in the lot, but there is still room for actual customers to shop if need be Once the marchers arrived back to the shopping center approx 45-60… Read more »

Lee
3 months ago

Maybe I’m missing something, but the above letter does not articulate a single illegal threat made against this restaurant group.   All I hear is that people are expressing disgust with Susan DeRose’s repeated displays of racism at her restaurants. People posting on public websites that they won’t be eating at your restaurants or giving their opinions of those restaurants are not threats. People expressing disgust with your point of view is simply that First Amendment thing that DeRose is in favor of, except when she isn’t. Worries about what rallies “could” lead to are not credible threats and no… Read more »

Ruthie
3 months ago

Your “OK Cafe Loves America” sign makes me happy every time I drive by. Thank you for standing strong and helping to maintain cuisine that I actually cannot get anyplace else.

Judith
3 months ago

Sad

Judith
3 months ago

I have always wondered why there was a giant confederate flag in the dining room. So offensive to many customers. I guess I have to remember we are in the south. What I can’t understand is they have African American employees that have worked there longer than the short 4 years the confederacy Existed in American history and they wouldn’t have more respect for the people around them. Racism and bigotry is so wrong on many levels

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  Judith

Judith, it was not a giant Confederate flag.
It was an artistic representation of the old Georgia state flag (which indeed included the stars and bars).
OK Cafe C0-Owner Susan DeRose Friday had staff remove the controversial Georgia flag art that has adorned the restaurant’s dining room for more than 30 years.
If you’re going to judge, at least get the facts right…

yoyoyo
3 months ago

Yeah…and since you know so much about it I guess you know the “in your face” group Susan is going to send when some dumb backwoods redneck with inherited money buys that POS art. AMIRITE?

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  yoyoyo

I’m not claiming to know so much about it, but there is a giant picture of the flag being removed from the wall.
I’m not going to make any assumptions on who’s going to buy it– I don’t really care about that.

Pedantic Observer
3 months ago

Just to clarify, the prior Georgia flag included the Confederate battle flag, not the Stars an Bars. Ironically, the current state flag incorporates the actual Stars and Bars.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago

Thank you for clearing that up.

yoyoyo
2 months ago

Just to clarify…that disgraceful flag was created as a result to desegregation laws. It has nothing to do with any “history and heritage”….google when that flag came about.

yoyoyo
3 months ago

She sure doesn’t mind appropraiting Black music for her agenda. Small minded woman.

yoyoyo
3 months ago

She didn’t just “serve” tea….she had a table with a banner proclaiming “Tea Party.”

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  yoyoyo

She didn’t just “serve” tea….she had a table with a banner proclaiming “Tea Party.”

Yes, and it’s pretty obvious, that politically, she identifies with the extreme right.
 
The extreme left has “the Squad.”
People can choose to identify with either of those groups…

JustPrefect
3 months ago

If you think “The Squad” is anything close to “Extreme Left” then you have no idea what the spread in left-wing politics actually looks like. The Squad is barely center-left almost anywhere in the world.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  JustPrefect

Same could be said about the Tea Party I suppose.
They’re not exactly the most extreme right wing group in the world.

JustPrefect
3 months ago

Not sure I agree about the TP. Dig a little and you might find they largely support some pretty far-right positions, and recall it was formed moments after a certain President was elected and before any real legislative action was even begun, for the sole purpose of total lack of compromise. We’ve just become a little too accustomed to being over-represented by a very conservative minority making a 40% position (maybe less) seem closer to “the middle” than it is.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  JustPrefect

Fair enough.

yoyoyo
3 months ago

Remember when people use to go to Aunt Fannie’s Cabin and thought that was OK? May Liberty House’s restaurants follow their lead.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  yoyoyo

Never heard of Aunt Fanny’s, so I had to Google it.
Turns out Blacks, as well as Jimmy Carter, frequented the place.
That was a very different time (not condoning it)– thankfully we have moved on from that.
Maybe not a lot, but we’ve still moved on.
 
 

yoyoyo
3 months ago

OMG….your reply is just ignorant and sad. Hey IP since 1987! that’s the same year that OK Cafe started.

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  yoyoyo

Ignorant, how so?
I’m sure a lot of things happened in 1987. Not sure what connection you’re trying to make.

yoyoyo
2 months ago

Could you be Susan DeRose? Hmmmm……….

I.P.30307since1987!
2 months ago
Reply to  yoyoyo

Go away, you’re just trolling at this point.
I’m moving on, maybe you should too.
This whole topic has received way more attention than it’s worth.

yoyoyo
2 months ago

Or maybe you’re Gary. Hmmmm….yeah….one of the two I’d wager.

MsGaBrown
3 months ago

Well you actually put thought into buying banners to put up on the day these protesters were marching ? Bye Ms DeRose.

James
3 months ago

The comment that I don’t understand is “No one else was fighting back so I decided to”. My question is fighting back against what? – against people demanding equal status as American citizens? – people protesting being murdered in the streets by law enforcement, against people bringing to light the fact that 400 years of oppression didn’t magically evaporate in the relatively small number of years since overt racism has been outlawed?

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  James

“No one else was fighting back so I decided to”

Not sure where you pulled that quote from, maybe I missed it– context is pretty important.
However, it seems her initial motivation was the looting and destruction of small businesses that took place during/after the protests.
Her words–

As an independent who is not afraid to speak out, we stand to say—protect small businesses—stop looting and burning us down.

Drew
3 months ago

There have been protests going on everyday this month by thousands of people meanwhile looting occurred at the beginning of the month by a few people. Why are you so obsessed with bringing up looting?

I.P.30307since1987!
3 months ago
Reply to  Drew

I am simply pointing out what Susan said was her motivation.
I hardly think that makes me obsessed with looting.

yoyoyo
2 months ago

I think it makes you obsessed with defending “Susan.”

SoSad
3 months ago

Everyone is entitled to have an opinion and to state it. The main problem in this situation is the hypocrisy and hidden messages within Susan’s supposed “positive”message. Susan was not merely standing up for small businesses and “innocently stating her opinion” with her banner as she claims. She was making a point by even putting the banner up that she was against BLM. She could have easliy said we are in support of BLM but we do not support looting or breaking the law and hurting small businesses. Her treating the peaceful protestors as looters and criminals is another example… Read more »

Yendelela
3 months ago

Ms. DeRose’s email to “Liberty House Restaurant Friends.” Ms. DeRose’s message makes clear that she has no interest in understanding the conditions that have brought us to the current protests and no interest in seeing a change in the status quo. Ms. DeRose’s position, while unfortunate, is unsurprising. There is an old adage that you should not argue with fools because people from a distance cannot tell the difference. Accordingly, I will not be sending another open letter to Ms. DeRose. Rather, I will direct my energies towards the reasonable, open-minded people of Atlanta.   For the most part, there are two Americas. The America that… Read more »

Linda Idris
3 months ago

Well, at least these restaurants quoted 2 R&B songs from the past – “What’s Going On” and “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right.”

MainLine
3 months ago

Great that these diner owners believe they have the know how to quality what lives matter. In a bad spot, don’t bother turning your life around, cause your life doesn’t even matter. What a joke, shows how intelligent they are.

MainLine
3 months ago
Reply to  MainLine

*Quality what lives matter

ATLRoughRiders
2 months ago

Wow… they are really trying to milk the publicity/sympathy card! Literally trolling the community to rile up its racists sympathizer customers and then playing victim. Ask 99.9% of BLM protestors in ATL and they’ll tell you they’ve never heard of this place or it’s race-baiting agitator owner’s. Your Children See Your Hypocrisy… that is why they are joining us in the streets to reject your evil ideology! #ChangeIsTheOneTrueConstant #WeAreOneRace #Humanity #BLM ✊

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