NEW YORK — The police department has sued a Brooklyn restaurant, claiming that the owner is under attack for a series of racist and homophobic slurs that were posted to his Facebook page.
The complaint filed Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court by the NYPD says the restaurant’s owner, a black man named James Brown, is “engaged in a pattern of racist, homophobic and otherwise offensive conduct.”
Brown is the owner of the New York City restaurant La Cucaracha, which has been at the center of a recent wave of racial unrest, including the shooting of a black police officer by a white man who later was charged with murder.
In the lawsuit, the NYPD claims Brown is a member of the Black Lives Matter movement, which promotes a “systemic failure” of police departments to respond to the threat posed by Black people.
In an email to The Associated Press, Brown said he was shocked and angered to learn about the lawsuit.
I was appalled that the city would try to intimidate me into silence.
The lawsuit does not address whether my customers are or are not entitled to privacy.
But the lawsuit does allege that La Cuccaracha is “conducting a pattern and practice of harassing and intimidating African-Americans.”
The NYPD claims it has a zero-tolerance policy for hate speech against African-American people and Brown has faced racist abuse from people who say he is a racist.
The lawsuit accuses Brown of using “a racist term and an offensive gesture” on his Facebook profile.
Brown told The Associated, “The only thing I’m going to do is say ‘sorry’ to everyone that I’ve offended.”
He also said in a statement: “We do not tolerate any type of racist or homophobic conduct.”
The lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages.
It also accuses La Cucharacha of violating the city’s “anti-discrimination ordinance” by advertising in its stores that it offers “canned” or “fresh” versions of La Cukaracha meals.
La Cucarcas attorneys, who did not return messages seeking comment, did not immediately return a message left on a voicemail left for Brown.
The restaurant has about 150 employees and sells about $1.5 million worth of meals a year, according to the lawsuit filed Monday.
The city says the complaint is without merit and it has not received any evidence of discrimination.