Food Trucks- Pizza Llama (copy)

Andrew Wilkinson, owner of the Pizza Llama mobile pizza operation, prepares a pizza outside Rockwell Brewery during the Frederick brewery’s second anniversary event in 2019.

In recent weeks, “Black Lives Matter” signs have appeared in windows along Market Street, showing solidarity with the anti-racist movement that spurred late in May after the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.

But some Frederick businesses have taken their support further, by taking public stances, selling items to benefit Black foundations and organizations or changing their policies.

Pizza Llama, owned by Frederick resident Andrew Wilkinson, made waves on social media earlier this month for deciding to not serve police officers in uniform. Wilkinson said he originally made the announcement on his Instagram story, which disappears after 24 hours. He hadn’t expected it to get so much attention.

He made the decision after reading an article about David McAtee, who was killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky. McAtee was the owner of a BBQ restaurant that routinely served officers for free.

“I just feel like we’ve been hearing about these things... the countless ... names we’ve heard before,” Wilkinson said. “And some people get outraged. Some people don’t care. But it kind of always seems like... the conversation is avoided, the outrage is short lived by people who don’t have to live in that reality every day. I don’t think it’s something we have to avoid, these are conversations we need to have and need to address this head on.”

Wilkinson said there were two reasons for his decision to no longer serve uniformed police officers. One was a protest of the routine killing of innocent Black people by police officers. The second is because many people, especially people of color, feel unsafe in the presence of an officer with a badge and gun, she said.

Emma Rivera of Frederick hadn’t heard of Pizza Llama before she saw that they were refusing to serve police officers, but once she did she started supporting them, joining many others who Wilkinson says have been very vocal.

She said she has been personally failed by the police on multiple occasions throughout the last couple of decades. For Rivera and her friends, who are mainly Black and Hispanic, the presence of a police officer makes them feel like they need to be on their best behavior, or not give the police “a reason” to question them.

“When you see a uniform, the first thing you do, and I don’t think it’s just me, but you’re instantly like, ‘I need to behave,’” Rivera said. “It’s like apparent they’re watching you, and you freak out a little bit.”

Opposers have taken to social media to say the denying of service to officers in uniform is “criminal.” However, it is not illegal to refuse to serve uniformed officers. Businesses cannot deny someone service based on protected classes such as their race, ethnicity, religion or sex. But occupation is not a protected class, and businesses are allowed to enforce dress codes.

Acting Frederick Police Chief Patrick Grossman said he doesn’t have an opinion on Pizza Llama’s decision. He did say that the department has been receiving “outstanding support” from the community and local businesses recently.

Frederick County Sheriff Chuck Jenkins said he wasn’t too familiar with the business, but said that he had heard about the controversy over the last week. Considering the support Jenkins said he has seen from members of the community, the sheriff said he wouldn’t be surprised if the gesture led to the owners seeing less business.

“Honestly, I think it’s foolish on his part and it might end up damaging his business because we have been seeing a huge outpouring of support for the law enforcement community,” the sheriff said, saying how residents and businesses have been dropping off food, coffee and even well-wishing cards and posters at the Frederick County Law Enforcement Center over the last few days. “... And another thing to consider is, those officers have friends and families; husbands, wives, sons and daughters, so I’m pretty sure he’s not going to get any of their business, either.”

The food truck was removed from its usual location at Jug Bridge Brewery on East Patrick Street by the building’s landlord, Wilkinson said. Since then, it has been banned from farmers markets and other events, including the Mount Airy Farmers Market.

But while the pizza truck has taken some hits, Wilkinson does not believe the move has been bad for business as a whole. He still has many people supporting him.

“I think a lot of the people who disagree with me and the fact that we’ve had some trouble with location, they think that business is bad, but actually we’re seeing a lot of support in the community,” Wilkinson said. “I know I haven’t felt alone.”

Wilkinson has been moving the truck daily and providing the address only to people who are coming to pick up pizza who have already ordered online. He’s also doing delivery runs.

His phone has been flooded with hate messages, he said, and he is concerned that revealing his location would compromise the safety of his staff.

The food truck’s Yelp page had to be temporarily frozen by the website, which does so when people start to flood pages with reviews that are linked to a news item and not the food itself.

Wilkinson recently launched Pizza Llama T-shirts at the request of customers. The proceeds will go to “I Believe in Me,” a foundation started by Aje Hill to help support disadvantaged boys in the Frederick community. He figured

“I felt like rather than just profiting off of issues that aren’t necessarily my issues, that don’t affect me directly in our community and at the hands of the police ... I would do something different with the money from all this attention,” Wilkinson said.

Businesses address racism

Other businesses have released items to help support Black organizations and charities, like McClintock Distilling on Carroll Creek. The distillery teamed up with Idiom Brewing Co. to make a collaboration called “Black is Beautiful.” All profits will go to the Maryland ACLU.

Braeden Bumpers, co-founder of McClintock, said the decision to get involved in the national initiative, started by Weathered Soul Brewing in Texas, was easy.

“We wanted to make it very clear that we stand with our community and this was a really good way to do that, and also raise money with the Maryland ACLU and help with everything they are doing as well,” Bumpers said.

Other Frederick County breweries including Smoketown and Milkhouse are also making Black is Beautiful brews.

Other businesses have used their product to help educate the community. Curious Iguana, the independent bookstore on Market Street, has been repeatedly selling out of anti-racist books such as “Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You” by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo.

“Racism is wrong, and I believe that individuals, business owners, government leaders, all of us have got to do whatever we can to put an end to racial injustice,” owner Marlene England said. “Books can be such powerful tools for understanding and then figuring out how to make change happen.”

England said the store has not received any backlash for highlighting diverse books and nonfiction books about racism.

“I think people understand that the role of an independent bookstore is to offer titles that will be meaningful and helpful to our community,” England wrote in an email. “We are encouraged that our customers are reading more books about race and racism — whether they’re buying the books from us, getting them from the library, or elsewhere.”

Follow Erika Riley on Twitter: @ej_riley

(36) comments

Lemmy

Per their manifesto published on their website (hint to moderators - leave this post alone), BLM seeks a revolution to topple the U.S. capitalist system and its replacement with a socialist-style government replete with universal income, collective ownership, and the redistribution of wealth

Lemmy

The BLM openly seeks a revolution to topple the U.S. capitalist system and its replacement with a socialist-style government replete with universal income, collective ownership, and the redistribution of wealth. I'm not sure these folks are reading carefully . . . . .

mdfishingboy

You will not see me buying from them.

sdm817

The food is what is going to put this place out of business. This article will just speed it along.

gabrielshorn2013

Pizza Llama, owned by Frederick resident Andrew Wilkinson, made waves on social media earlier this month for deciding to not serve police officers in uniform.

OK, So Wilkinson’s discrimination against law enforcement officers is acceptable? Got it. I guess I won’t be buying anything from Pizza Llama.

When you see a uniform, the first thing you do, and I don’t think it’s just me, but you’re instantly like, ‘I need to behave,’” Rivera said. “It’s like apparent they’re watching you, and you freak out a little bit.

It is a common reaction from everyone (do you immediately check your speedometer when driving if you see a cop?), but do you really need to see a cop before you behave yourself? What are you doing at other times that would raise an officer’s suspicions?

The food truck was removed from its usual location at Jug Bridge Brewery on East Patrick Street by the building’s landlord, Wilkinson said. Since then, it has been banned from farmers markets and other events, including the Mount Airy Farmers Market.

So, before this, Mr. Wilkinson was squatting on other people’s property, without their permission or paying rent?

DickD

It says he made the decision after reading about McAtee, who was giving free meals. Sure sounded like he was doing the same. But it doesn't say that. Gabby.

newspostreader

"Wilkinson has been moving the truck daily and providing the address only to people who are coming to pick up pizza who have already ordered online." - The first thing that comes to mind is could he be operating a place where it is prohibited, so he isn't posting it. The other question is so I order my pizza and then find out where I have to pick it up? What if it's not in a convenient place after I order it? If I'm on the south side of Frederick, and he's on the north side of Frederick, I'm not going that far for a pizza.

Business Owner

He has a right to make this decision and I have the right to avoid this food truck -- which I will.

gdunn

He must still be angry over his 6 month stay in jail for being a drug dealer.

gadavis

Absolutely. This guy is a total loser and convicted drug dealer. No surprise he doesn’t like police.

girlpolitic

Jail Term: Yrs:5 Mos:0 Days:0 Hours:0

Suspend All But: Yrs:1 Mos:6 Days:0 Hours:0

Probably angry he did not get more time in jail. He is most probably still working on his career development plan where after he has several more felony drug distribution charges, armed robbery, burglary and assault charges, serve 8 years in prison so he can start a “non-profit” 501(c)(3). It is a great way to have others give you money and you do not need a job.

DickD

Jenkins may be right about police not going to the restaurant but that was a free meal for them...So, that's a gain for the restaurant and they are sure to pick up Black customers, along with others who sympathize with Black Lives Matter. Open your eyes Chuckie.

Listener

Agreed. I find it strange that rather than responding to the reason for the protest, Jenkins chose to pontificate on how the business would lose customers for this protest. He really thinks this protest is about pizza.

gabrielshorn2013

Where does it say they got a free meal, Dick? I can't seem to find it. Do you honestly believe that LEO's expect and get free stuff, including meals? Open your eyes "Dickie", they don't.

bosco

I prefer my pizza without beard hairs in it. [scared][ninja]

KR999

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] I wonder if the Health Dept. would approve...

newspostreader

As a supporter of BLM, I will not patronize Pizza Llama. They'd have no problem calling a uniformed officer if they were in need of help, but refuse to serve them food. You don't discriminate against one group while trying to prevent discrimination against another group. I've seen people say, well cops choose to be cops, you don't get to choose your skin color. Well, of course that is true, but those cops chose to put their life on the line every day to protect yours. Are there bad cops? Absolutely! But do not put all of them into the same category.

Blueline

It's somewhat ironic to protest discrimination by practicing it.

bosco

[thumbup]...imagine the hue and cry, looting and burning, if some business owner decided not to serve anyone wearing a burka or hijab and announced it via the FNP? [ninja]

public-redux

He at least should have had the wit to say that serving uniformed officers conflicted with his sincerely held religious beliefs.

Listener

This is a protest against the killing of Black americans at the hands of police. That is much more than discrimination. It is murder.

bosco

Where are the protests about the killings of Black Americans at the hands of other Black Americans, such as every week in Chicago? That is much more than discrimination. It is murder. [ninja]

phydeaux994

The same place as the protests about the killing of White Americans by other White Americans. The reason that Black people kill other Black people in Chicago and other Cities is because the Black people have been funneled into the inner Cities with no education, no jobs, horrible housing, and no hope. To survive, many turn to crime and they prey on other Black people because that’s where most of the Black people are. That’s what these protests are about bosco, four hundred years of Black people being denied access to the things that White people take for granted. That’s what we’ve got to fix. Will you help fix it bosco, you and the RRR(RadicalRightRepublicans)??

KR999

[yawn]

bosco

[yawn] just another string of excuses from the left.

mrnatural1

'But what about...?'

Of course all murders, of all people, of all races, are horrible.

For better or worse, some are more shocking than others.

One gang banger (of any race) kills another? Sad, but routine. Not news.

Innocent, unarmed, black man shot in the back (or strangled) by a white cop -- a "peace officer" that is supposed to protect and serve *everyone* -- *THAT"S* gonna get some attention.

It's just how the world works.

mgoose806

What a sad way to protest. Put yourself out of business

KR999

I hope the law takes its sweet time answering the call if this Pizza Llama guy ever needs officer assistance.

Listener

I have seen this response used often in response to anyone who disagrees with police behavior. So you are saying police get to choose who they assist and when? And they don't have to do the job, that taxpayer's fund, if they don't like someone's opinion or political beliefs? If that's the case, I can understand the cries to defund the police. That's a good reason to abolish them altogether.

bosco

You have seen this often? When and where?[ninja]

KR999

Don't expect an answer, bosco.

How were things at Bosco Manor this weekend? We had some loud mouth white privilege women doing some public screaming in Thurmont Saturday. I'm surprised there was no mention of it in the paper yesterday or today.

KR999

Who said the cops get to choose who they assist and when? And that they don't have to do their job if they don't like someone's opinion or political beliefs, Listener? I only said if this ingrate ever needs them that I hope take their time responding. Don't try putting your liberal words in my mouth.

DickD

Sure sounded like that is what you meant, KR

KR999

Only because that's what you wanted it to sound like, Dick

mrnatural1

Well said Listener. [thumbup]

mrnatural1

KR999 -- I hope they are more professional than that.

We cannot afford to have childish, petty police officers that 'keep score' and hold grudges.

"Protect and Serve" applies to everyone. A good cop does not play favorites.

In fact, if the owner of Pizza Llama ever needs police assistance, a professional LEO would use it as an opportunity to reach out and show that most cops are decent people.

Welcome to the discussion.

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