The owner of a restaurant in Tennessee said he received death threats after renting out one of his rooms for a Republican candidate.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) is running for Senate and held a campaign breakfast in a room at Courtney’s Restaurant in Mount Juliet.
A picture published by a local newspaper, The Wilson Post, shows Blackburn behind a serving counter helping serve potential voters breakfast on Oct. 13.
Tom Courtney, the owner of Courtney’s, said that after renting the room to Blackburn, he has been called a Nazi, an abuser, a racist, and even faced death threats. His staff has also been verbally attacked, including a 17-year-old who was left in tears after a caller verbally abused her.
“People have posted they love our food, but will no longer come to the restaurant,” Courtney told the Post. “I have never in my life experienced such a thing. It’s scary.”
“I can’t begin to tell you how awful it was,” Courtney added to the Todd Starnes Show. “They called me a racist, bigot, called me an [expletive] plenty of times and [one guy] told me to watch my back.”
Referring to how one caller left the teenage female employee in tears, Courtney said, “If you are threatening a 17-year-old minor and threatening people to watch your back—when does it stop being freedom of speech and become a threat?”
— FoxNashville (@FOXNashville) October 15, 2018
‘I Run a Business’
Courtney said he needs to make money with his business and will rent out a room to whatever person or group needs it. He rents it nearly every day to musicians, local clubs, and other groups.
He said he’d rent it to the campaign of Phil Bredesen, the former Tennessee governor who is running on the Democrat ticket for senator against Blackburn.
In a social media post hitting back at his critics, Courtney wrote: “This is a family restaurant. It sells food. When people come in and order food, we sell it to them. We book events for all sorts of things including charities and business alliances, social organizations, and such. We do NOT discriminate on race, religion, or political affiliation.”
He noted that all kinds of people from the community enjoy his food and they enjoy the customers.
“We have all manner of people eating in our establishment every day. They sit beside each other as neighbors and get along just fine. We are a family restaurant and we treat everyone as family with integrity and respect,” he said. “Our employees’ political affiliations are their own. We have both parties represented and we work shoulder to shoulder each day. We would appreciate you treating us with the same respect as we treat each of you.”
The radical Left is out of control, and their angry mob is right here in Tennessee. Tom, we appreciate your opening your restaurant up to us, and we hope you are treated with the same respect as you treat your customers.https://t.co/DbJriASwZO
— Marsha Blackburn (@VoteMarsha) October 17, 2018
Blackburn and Breseden Respond
Blackburn took to Twitter to slam the “angry mob” for threatening Courtney and his staff.
“The radical Left is out of control, and their angry mob is right here in Tennessee,” she wrote. “Tom, we appreciate your opening your restaurant up to us, and we hope you are treated with the same respect as you treat your customers.”
The Bredesen campaign said they’re not involved in the backlash against Courtney’s.
“Any protest was not connected to the Bredesen for Senate campaign or the Tennessee Democratic Party in any way.” Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Mark Brown told the Wilson Post.
“In fact, the Bredesen campaign will probably take Tom Courtney up on his offer of renting the same space.” Brown said.
Courtney said he appreciated the comments but said that because of the threats he’s received, he’s decided to vote for Blackburn.
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