A restaurant owner in Arizona is being harassed after taking a divisive political stance. Betty Rivas, who owns Sammy's Mexican Grill in the small town of Catalina, was photographed attending at a Donald Trump rally last week, reports the Arizona Daily Star — and soon after faced negative Yelp reviews, threatening phone calls, and disparaging Facebook messages.
Rivas was in the crowd at a Tucscon Trump rally on Saturday when her homemade sign that read "Latinos Love D. Trump" spurred the politician to pull her up on stage. The backlash was swift and severe, with critics taking to the internet and the phone to express their disgust at Rivas supporting a presidential candidate who's made some famously disparaging comments about Mexican immigrants in the recent past.
"Disgusted not a clean place! Btw fuck Trump and all his ignorant followers!" wrote a Facebook commenter who left a one-star review. "They are doing everything to shut us down," Sammy's co-owner Jorge Rivas told the Daily Star. "Saying you are a racist, you are a pig, you are going to burn, you are an idiot."
But as tends to happen in these situations, the backlash soon attracted its own backlash: Now the Facebook and Yelp pages for Sammy's have been flooded with supportive messages such as, "Thank you for your honest support of your chosen candidate. Last I checked this was still America where free speech and our constitution have made us the greatest country on earth." The restaurant has also seen a swift uptick in business, nearly running out of food yesterday.
The Yelp page for Sammy's now displays an "Active Cleanup Alert," reading, "This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news. While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to these news events, we do work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business." It's not an uncommon sight after a restaurateur makes the news for something politically charged: The accessibility and ease of writing Yelp reviews has made it a popular method of social protest, and something that the company spends plenty of time and energy fighting against.