Berkeley-based hot dog chain Top Dog issued statements Monday denying the story that former cook Cole White was fired, saying that he took "responsibility" for his actions in attending a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville and "voluntarily" resigned his position. The strangely worded clarification comes as the 51-year-old restaurant is now facing threats of retaliation from alt-right activists and as Berkeley braces for its own neo-Nazi/alt-right rally and counter-protest, likely to be the third major one this year, next weekend.
SFist and others reported Monday that Cole White was fired from Top Dog after the restaurant posted a notice to their front door likely to placate all those customers who condemn racism saying that White "no longer works at top dog." White had been doxxed or outed by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist following the events in Virginia on Saturday and multiple images of the torch rally on Friday night in which hundreds of white men, including, apparently, White, chanted things like "You will not replace us," "Jews will not replace us," and "White Lives Matter."
Cole White, from California -- allegedly works at Top Dog restaurant in Berkeley pic.twitter.com/gxPvwQtAPw— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) August 12, 2017
Now, apparently looking to avoid legal issues, and to avoid violence and appease white supremacists angered about White's alleged termination, the restaurant issued an awkward statement that KRON 4 printed in full. In it they say, "We pride ourselves on embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual’s choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law. We do not endorse hatred or any illegal conduct. It simply is not part of our culture."
But it gets weird, because given the restaurant's staunchly Libertarian owner and the questionable implications of the "Propergander" section of the restaurant's website the statement appears to want to placate everyone by saying, "We do respect our employees’ right to their opinions. They are free to make their own choices but must accept the responsibilities of those choices." It seems they want to make sure that it doesn't look like they fired someone for their political beliefs.
Take it as you will:
On Saturday, August 12, it came to our attention that one of our employees was involved in the recent ‘alt-right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Later that day we spoke with Cole White. During that conversation Cole chose to voluntarily resign his employment with top dog and we accepted his resignation.
There have been reports that he was terminated. Those reports are false. There have been reports that top dog knowingly employs racists and promotes racist theology. That too is false.
Individual freedom and voluntary exchange are core to the philosophy of top dog. We look forward to cooking the same great food for at least another 50 years.
As CBS 5 reports, as news spread of White's termination Monday, the restaurant received what Berkeley police called a "credible threat," and cops are trying to do extra patrols in the area of Top Dog's two Berkeley locations.
CBS 5 also speaks with UC Hastings law professor David Levine who explains that White was well within his rights in attending the rally under the California labor code, as it is protected political activity that he was doing on his own time.