In an effort to stand for civil rights after the death of a Minnesota man, two Maryland activists have doubled down, committing to protest Baltimore County business, Vince’s Crab House, until it is dead.
Former Baltimore City mayoral candidate, Rikki Vaughn, along with Baltimore’s Ark Church secretary, Kellie Vaughan, have committed to the movement until Vince’s closes its doors.
While each say they have a different approach to killing the business, neither say they intend to stop until their goal is realized: which is to force the restaurant out of business –for good.
In May, following the death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who was killed by a police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes during his arrest, protests – sometimes violent – erupted across the country which called for police reform. In response, Vince’s Crab House operator, Vince Meyer, posted on his personal Facebook page, “There is one place I bet the protesters/rioters won’t light on fire or break into or even block the road to … the social services buildings.” Meyer later apologized for the post.
Since that time, protestors have manned sidewalks and streets surrounding the Middle River restaurant, calling for the business to close, after the group successfully forced the business to shut its doors for nine days this summer.
The restaurant is currently suing Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski for failing to provide the business protections by the Baltimore County Police Department (BCPD), which has led to a loss of revenue for the business and has subjected its customers and staff to harassment by protestors. The Post has been informed by numerous BCPD officers that they were asked to stand down and not engage the protestors.
On Wednesday, Rikki Vaugh recommitted his efforts to forcing the closure of the business, stating, “…We are not breaking windows. We are not breaking doors. But we are breaking bank accounts…” And he said, “As long as your knees are on our necks, our foot will continue to be in your ass.”
As reported by The Post last week, Mr. Vaughn was slapped with two peace orders in August, and is facing a malicious destruction charge connected to his protest of the crab restaurant. Vince’s is also suing the aspiring politician, and others, for harming its business.
Kellie Vaughan has called for non-violent protests, asking her Facebook followers not to resort to fisticuffs during their activism efforts to shutter the restaurant. But Ms. Vaughan has advocated for stalking customers of the restaurant as they try to purchase their meals behind the establishment so to avoid protesters and being heckled.
In early October, Ms. Vaughan posted a video while she taped customers as she laughed, captioning the video,“…Look who has outback pick up….again. Desperate! We know your plot now.”
She refused to speak with The Baltimore Post, stating earlier this month during a short interview, “They’re (Vince’s Crab House) suing us. We’re done playing nice,” Ms. Vaughan said. “We’re not talking to you. All you guys do is print lies.” The Post asked if Ms. Vaughan could point to what she deemed to be untrue in our reporting, but instead instructed us not to call again before hanging up. We tried twice more before this story published.
During a video Mr. Vaughn posted to his Facebook page on Wednesday, he said that the two activists had received awards for their work in the community from the National Action Network (NAN), a leading civil rights organization with chapters throughout the United States.
The Post reached out to the national organization on Thursday. NAN said it was not familiar with Rikki Vaughn and had no knowledge that he or Ms. Vaughan ever received an award. The Post then called a number provided for the vice president of the NAN’s Baltimore chapter, who said he was unaware of any such award. The president of the local chapter did not return our voicemail asking about the accolade.
The NAN, a platform that empowers individuals and groups to organize for progressive causes, states on its website that it encourages “responsible activism,” but does not “support using the platform to take unlawful or other improper action.” It further states that “We do not control or endorse the conduct of users and make no representations of any kind about them.”
Yet, along with the passage of time and the pending court cases, the local movement against the crab house– led in part by Vaughn and Vaughan – has lost some steam. In September, three protestors, who had initially joined in opposition of the restaurant, told WBFF-TV during a press conference that they were backing out from the movement since they were satisfied that the restaurant operator apologized and that Vince’s was forced to close for nine days.
Two of those former protestors also said that they were turned off after witnessing organizers accepting envelopes of cash while protesting outside the seafood establishment, suggesting that protestors were being paid to help force the closure of the business. It was reported to The Baltimore Post by sources that Ms. Vaughan is connected to Ark Church on E. North Ave. in Baltimore and that the church is possibly financing protestors for their efforts to force the closure of Vince’s Middle River location.
However, another protest organizer, Candice Green, claimed during the WBFF-TV press conference that the cash was from passersby, thanking protestors for their activism against racism.