Some have accepted Tacoma business owner Les Voros-Bond’s apology after he interrupted a social justice demonstration a week ago.
Others have not.
Two grass-roots groups, one apparently on either side of the issue, demonstrated Sunday outside his business, Dorky’s Arcade, at South Ninth Street and Pacific Avenue.
One group protested Voros-Bond’s behavior of last week. The other group demonstrated more generally against anti-black violence.
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Voros-Bond found himself in a social media storm after he took a bullhorn outside his business Aug. 9 when a group called Tacoma Stands Up was blocking a crosswalk to demonstrate against police brutality and social injustice, which they’ve been doing on Sundays since early July. He used the bullhorn to make noise, and he used language using the N-word during the public rant, which started because he was annoyed they were blocking the street.
“Everyone is susceptible to being a jerk sometimes,” he said Sunday. “I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want that side of me to come out.”
Tacoma Stands Up called a boycott of Dorky’s after the incident, but issued a statement Friday canceling it, after Voros-Bond wrote a lengthy apology online and made other attempts to reconcile.
A crowd of roughly 30 people, apparently associated with the group Tacoma Stands Up, marched down Pacific Avenue on Sunday, as they’ve done since early July, and blocked a crosswalk near Dorky’s shortly after 2 p.m. for about 30 minutes. They demonstrated against anti-black violence, as they do at the weekly march, but not Dorky’s itself, it appeared. The group declined to comment.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing,” one of the founders, Cathy Nguyen said. “We’re actually not interested in speaking with the media.”
Meanwhile, protesting Dorky’s outside the business’s entrance were about a dozen members of the Tacoma Action Collective, another group that works against social injustice and to bring attention to police violence against black people.
They stood silently with fists raised in the air, then held signs with messages against racism up to the windows and knocked on them as they chanted. After that, they blocked the sidewalk adjacent to the other group.
As a car tried to drive through, they chanted and pointed for the vehicle to turn back.
One of the group’s organizers, Jamika Scott, said the Tacoma Stands Up and Tacoma Action Collective demonstrations were not scheduled together; it just happened to be the best day for everyone. The groups talk, she said, and if Tacoma Stands Up is interested, they might have an event together in the future.
The collective was not part of the Aug. 9 protest, but learned about the altercation, she said.
“Just because a few people in Tacoma have decided that it’s their next step to forgive and not boycott, we’re not there yet, and we’re not going to rush anyone else to make that step,” Scott said.
Video widely circulated online since Aug. 9 shows Voros-Bond playing music and siren noises from the bullhorn, and dancing among the protesters, bumping into them.
Protesters said online that he made disparaging remarks to them, and one woman told The News Tribune he called her son the N-word.
Voros-Bond denied that, and told The News Tribune last week that he used the N-word this way: “I repeated it: ‘I’m an N-word?’” he said. “They were straight up calling me that.”
Soon after the altercation, he went back out and apologized, he said.
Voros-Bond appeared to stay inside the business during the demonstrations Sunday, and he declined to comment afterward.
Beforehand, he said peaceful protesters would be welcome to use his restrooms and that he had extra water for them. The entrance was locked for safety, he said.
No one appeared to take him up on his offer.
Tacoma Stands Up also said in its statement canceling the boycott that Voros-Bond was willing to let them hold meetings at Dorky’s and to donate proceeds from Sunday to their cause.
“We wish to both thank Les for his extension of hand and graciously decline these particular offerings at this time,” the statement read.