Tensions are high in Nashville and across the country as the COVID-19 crisis transitions into a slow simmer and protests against racism and police violence reach boiling. For many, this has been an hour for their best selves to shine. For others, it has been a time to reveal attitudes that fly in the face of common decency and social norms of a liberal democracy. We are showing our very best and worst. Corner Pub Green Hills and its owner Jeremy Palmer are being called out for showing some of the very worst.
“A volunteer asked for a donation for last year’s HRC Dinner. The volunteer called me after she got off the phone with him because she was in tears at how she was treated. He told her that ‘We don’t give to organizations like that,’ and to never call again” – Eric Patton
Since the protests following killing of George Floyd by police, protests have rocked the nation, but, soon after, the owners of the twitter account @CornerPubGH (The Original CornerPub-Green Hills) began posting disturbing responses to the protests, including tweets that many interpreted as encouraging violence against protesters and demeaning religious leaders who stand with the protesters.
Tweeter @tannerguzy on June 1, 2020 retweeted a photo of a truck that nearly barreled through protesters with the comment, “I still cannot wrap my head around the stupidity of expecting a vehicle to stop.”
The account @CornerPubGH responded, “You know what you do in this situation? Keep on driving! And driving.” Many Nashvillians have interpreted this as a suggestion that motorists should barrel into crowds of protesters rather than be inconvenienced.
Also on June 1, Catholic theologian James Martin, SJ, criticized Donald Trump’s attack on protesters to secure his photo opportunity with a Bible, writing, “Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything.”
Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. God is not your plaything. pic.twitter.com/RZwPeqrwoZ
— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) June 2, 2020
The Corner Pub account @CornerPubGH replied to the eminent theologian, who has often spoken out in favor of social justice, “Take a valium, Reverend.”
By June 2, 2020, Steve Cavendish, editor of the Nashville Banner called out Corner Pub for these posts (the Corner Pub Green Hills Twitter is now private, so thankfully screenshots were taken), writing, “Brand Destruction 101: Using a local restaurant’s social media account to tell a priest to chill out about the President’s photo op and encourage people to run over protesters. Good luck, Corner Pub.”
Brand Destruction 101: Using a local restaurant’s social media account to tell a priest to chill out about the President’s photo op and encourage people to run over protesters. Good luck, Corner Pub. pic.twitter.com/6eeJnnhuBJ
— Steve Cavendish (@scavendish) June 2, 2020
News Channel 5 shared other screenshots where the @CornerPubGH account referred to “looters” as “animals” and made other incendiary remarks.
The concern caused by these tweets led Jeff Estepp, 50% owner of Corner Pub at the Nations to announce that he was dissolving his partnership with, Jeremy Palmer, owner of Corner Pub Green Hills and its Twitter account.
This controversy also resurfaced complaints that the owner of Corner Pub Green Hills as anti-LGBT as well. Eric Patton posted that “Jeremy Palmer (the owner of OCP) threatened to sue me earlier this month with his buddy at a big scary law firm (@Butler_Snow) over me accusing him of being homophobic. I feel insanely mollified with this news. Karma ain’t playin’ around.”
Specifically, Palmer’s legal representation wrote that, “It has come to our attention that you are posting false and defamatory statements on social media sites, e.g. Twitter, about the Corner Pub, including, but not limited to, the inflammatory and baseless statement that the Corner Pub discriminates against homosexual people. This statement is patently false and highly defamatory. We hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from making and continuing to make these false and defamatory statements.” Patton was intimidated and retained the services of prominent LGBT attorney Abby R. Rubenfeld who answered the letter directly.
Asked why he believed Palmer and Corner Pub were anti-LGBT, Patton answered, “The reason I called him homophobic was with good reason. A volunteer asked for a donation for last year’s HRC Dinner. The volunteer called me after she got off the phone with him because she was in tears at how she was treated. He told her that ‘We don’t give to organizations like that,’ and to never call again. When [Corner Pub’s anti-protester posts came out], that incident was the first thing that came to mind. It was clear why he didn’t…”
So, now we know who and what Corner Pub stands for: will Nashville continue to support the restaurateur behind it?