No restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky, is safe for Mitch McConnell, it seems. Protesters followed the Senate Majority Leader to his dinner destination on Sunday night, blasting Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and chanting “no justice, no peace.” McConnell and his group was forced to leave Italian restaurant Sarino mid-meal due to the disturbance, according to the Courier Journal.
The episode follows a lunch in Louisville over the weekend after which McConnell was chased by protesters yelling “Vote him out!” “Abolish ICE!” and “Go home!” (McConnell is based in Louisville when he’s not in Washington, D.C.)
A bartender who works at the restaurant next door, Nick Hulstine, saw the protesters coming and offered up his speaker system to play “Fight the Power.” One of the protesters had a mega-phone, and a group of about 10 entered the restaurant while McConnell was dining. According to passers-by, the staff at Sarino wanted to serve McConnell, and were yelling at the protesters to leave. Some staff began to escort the protesters out. Ultimately, it was McConnell who left, with bodyguards and in unmarked cars this time, per the Courier Journal.
“They did it to hold McConnell accountable,” Jesus Ibañez, an organizer for Occupy ICE in Louisville, confirmed to the Courier Journal. Though McConnell opposed the Trump administrations separation of children from their parents at the border, he does support the administration’s other immigration policies, including forced detainment.
This is the fourth public protest against a Republican or Trump administration official to happen at a restaurant in recent weeks. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked by management to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia last month, and last week in D.C., a diner and her son demanded that then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt resign. Just a few days ago, McConnell was chased out of a different restaurant in Louisville.
As my colleague Amy McCarthy wrote last month, “any notion of hospitality that prioritizes the hurt feelings of officials who wield enormous instruments of cruelty over workers, patrons, and the community at large is not a hospitality worth defending... Restaurants are inherently political places,” where the social dynamics of our country play out as if in a microcosm. Disturbing that ecosystem draws ire, but also, necessarily, attention.
“People, people we are the same,” Public Enemy’s lyrics continue, ever relevant when elected officials misuse their power, “No we’re not the same/ ’Cause we don’t know the game.”