One week after confronting a peaceful protester while holding a Taser, J.J. Meland, owner of Silverdale’s Maynard’s Restaurant, recently held a community conversation to apologize for his actions, but many of those in the audience last Saturday said they left unsatisfied with the response.
The basis of the conversation centered around a June 6 incident during a peaceful protest for racial justice on Bucklin Hill Road in Silverdale, the road on which Maynard’s is located. After Meland came out to the sidewalk outside his restaurant, a confrontation ensued between the owner and Terrell Wilcher, a demonstrator, who says Meland told him to get off the sidewalk because he paid for it. Photos that later surfaced on Facebook following the incident, show Meland holding a Taser during the confrontation with Wilcher, which he admitted at the community conversation.
“I shouldn’t have brought the Taser,” Meland said. “I was wrong for that. Looking back, it was threatening because I had it. It had nothing to do with race. I can understand how it might feel that way. It was out of fear and I’m not saying that fear was justified.”
Wilcher, who appeared and spoke at the community conversation, expressed his anger over Meland’s actions and was not satisfied with his apology.
“What you did that day was ultimately just all the way foul,” Wilcher said. “You told me to get off of the sidewalk because you paid for it, like you owned it. What you did that day was the reason why we’re out here protesting. I don’t think anything is going to change around here. Not from this guy, not from this establishment. This is a public relations thing, they’re trying to save their business.”
Meland stated his reasoning for holding the forum was to meet in person with those who were involved and affected by the incident and to provide an explanation for his actions.
“I did make a mistake and I am holding myself accountable, that’s why I’m here. Instead of hiding behind a keyboard or sending out a letter saying ‘I’m sorry,’ I invited everyone in the community to come.”
Many other individuals took the opportunity to address the wider issues of racial inequity, including local landscaping owner Darryl Riley of Hands of Favor Lawn Care.
“The problem that we have, first of all, is white privilege seems to rub people the wrong way. This ain’t about J.J., this is bigger than him. White privilege doesn’t mean your life wasn’t hard, it means your life wasn’t hard because of the color of your skin. White people, you’re going to have to lose some friends and family members. It’s going to be painful, you’re going to have to cut them off because you can’t love me and be a part of that ideology. We’ve really got to keep a check on him.”
The local restaurant owner also stated his regret for the backlash his staff had received stemming from the incident last week as well.
“My staff, who had nothing to do with the situation, unfortunately, received a lot of harsh criticism,” Meland said. “They did not deserve this and I am sorry for that as well. I see this as an opportunity to reflect on how I can continue to grow and improve, but the only way I can do that is by listening to all of the feedback.”
Moving forward, Meland said that Maynard’s is taking steps to actively support racial equity in a variety of ways, including monetary donations to civil rights organizations, as well as educating staff on implicit bias, conflict resolution, and workplace harassment.