Cornology, the gourmet popcorn shop at Bay Street, is under fire after witnesses attest the use of a racial slur by an employee following an alleged theft. The incident is leading to calls for a boycott of the establishment by some members of the public.
A public post on Facebook by a witness provided a description of the incident that quickly went viral (over 2,000 shares at the time this story was published): “This business owner just chased a group of young black kids out of Cornology yelling, ‘dont come back here NI**ERS!’”
A response by the Cornology Facebook admin acknowledged the incident, stating their response was “inappropriate,” admitting that inexcusable language was used, and asking for “forgiveness” from the community..
We acknowledge your rightful anger and want to extend our deepest apologies to our community and neighbors. Our response to being robbed was inappropriate and came from shock, disbelief and anger. This does not excuse by any means the language or pain it caused to our community.
We ask for your forgiveness.
The incident comes in the wake of other high-profile incidents including the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks on April 12th. Outrage and protests over the event have resulted in the company’s plans to close 8,000 of its stores on May 29th for employee racial-bias training.
This incident reignited discussion of a 2015 incident at Elmwood Café in Berkeley involving CNN television show host/local comedian W. Kamau Bell. Elmwood abruptly shut their doors last Friday after the national attention led to a flood of negative reviews and posts.
1:11 p.m. update: When we reached out to Cornology Founder/CEO Mark Stone for comment via email, he provided the following response:
Thank you for contacting me about this unfortunate incident. We are profoundly sorry to the community for what was done in a moment of frustration during the heat of the moment. The store was a victim of a snatch and grab when over 15 kids deluged the store and ran out with merchandise. One lagged behind and started throwing unsuccessful punches. The response was not warranted under any circumstance and we are very sorry for reacting in the heat of the moment.
2:02 p.m. update: Emeryville Police Jennifer Tejada confirmed that her force responded to a call at the establishment on Sunday. “We responded to a call from the store owner requesting help with 19 juveniles who stole several items, tried to punch him and threw soda cans at him.”
Tuesday, April 24th update: In an interview with SF Chronicle reporter Justin Phillips, witnesses Fay Eastman and Aisha Weber described the Cornology employee as having provoked the incident saying he ‘aggressively’ demanded they leave as soon as they entered the store. “I didn’t see those kids running out with bags of popcorn. He just didn’t want them in the store,”
Tuesday, April 24th update: Controversy continues to mount as witnesses, a Chronicle Reporter and an anonymous Emeryville official all attest that the employee involved in the incident was in fact Cornology CEO Mark Stone. The Cornology Facebook Page has been deactivated in response to the barrage of criticism from the public. As of today, the employee involved is still employed by the company.
Wednesday, April 25th update: Eater SF appears to have confirmed that Stone was indeed the ’employee’ and he was speaking of himself in the third person. “I am deeply sorry for what I did in the heat of a very tense moment during a robbery on Sunday. I reacted improperly during a very tense moment. I have sought forgiveness with GOD, Family and friends.”
Since this is breaking news, we will update this story as new information becomes available.