Members of Louisville’s Cuban community plan to gather Sunday in support of a NuLu restaurant owner who says he was threatened by Black Lives Matter protesters during a recent demonstration.
Fernando Martinez, a partner of the Olé Restaurant Group, was one of dozens of business owners in the downtown Louisville district who recently received a letter from protesters laying out demands that aim to improve diversity in the area, which is known for its locally-owned shops and restaurants.
Martinez has publicly denounced the demands on Facebook, calling them “mafia tactics” used to intimidate business owners. And on Thursday, a small group of protesters confronted him outside his newest restaurant, La Bodeguita de Mima, on East Market Street.
“There comes a time in life that you have to make a stand and you have to really prove your convictions and what you believe in,” Martinez wrote in his Facebook post. “… All good people need to denounce this. How can you justified (sic) injustice with more injustice?”
Lauren Justice, co-owner of Nouvelle Bar & Bottle, said she and other NuLu business owners have “a responsibility to admit” that gentrification occurred and to actively participate in increasing diversity in the area.
As a white business owner, she said she thinks the protesters’ demands are legitimate, and she and her business partner “humbly welcome feedback.”
“As owners of Nouvelle, we realize we could and should have been doing more and we are trying to do better,” she said by email. “… We know there’s a lot more work to be done and that a long-term commitment is what it takes to make sustainable change.”