A small coffee shop in Portland, Maine attracted controversy recently when it decided to sell merchandise that incited hate and division amongst people.
The Little Woodfords coffee shop made headlines when its owner, Andrew Zarro, decided to sell stickers that read "Abort Republicans" and "Defund God," among other things. Zarro also happens to be a Democratic council member in Portland.
According to Faithwire, the inflammatory stickers with hateful messages on them were a complete 180-degree turn from the messzge on the posters that the coffee shop was selling just weeks prior that read "All races, classes, ages, religions, bodies, abilities, genders, identities, sexual orientations, countries of origin are welcome here." Citi News reported that patrons must "be aware that it doesn't say all 'political affiliations' are welcome. That's made completely clear."
Other stickers being sold at Little Woodfords coffee shop include those that say "Simply Say No to God & Weapons," "What if jail was just for cops," and posters that read "All Hail Devil."
On Instagram on Thursday, the Little Woodfords coffee shop lamented that Zarro was met with backlash after the Portland City Council voted unanimously to implement a temporary mask mandate to address the spread of COVID's Omicron variant.
"As many of you know, Andrew from this shop is one of those councilors," the Instagram post read. "Shortly after the vote, a group of anti-mask, anti-science, and anti-vaccine conservatives blew a dog whistle to their co-conspirators and called on them to make an example out of Andrew by attacking Little Woodfords, a private business."
According to the Press Herald, Zarro sponsored the city's mask mandate ordinance and since Monday has been receiving threats and attacks on his character. Zarro wrote on Instagram on Thursday, "I have now received direct threats to my shop and harm to our bodies, vicious homophobic and personal attacks, more derogatory, malicious and fictitious reviews, along with promises to make me close my shop permanently in 2022, as several of these people are calling for a boycott of our shop."
Zarro added that there is a local group organizing a campaign to draft a letter calling on the City Council to remove him from his post. He also recognized how people were criticizing his character over the sale of "satirical stickers" that were sold at his shop amidst the national discussions about Roe v. Wade.
According to KDRV, Oregon is seeing "an unprecedented surge" in COVID cases as of Thursday, doubling its single day record for new cases. The Oregon Health Authority reported 7,615 new COVID cases, which is the highest number ever seen in a single day since the pandemic broke out in 2020. Zarro's decision to pursue a mask mandate in Portland earned full support of his co-councilors, who also condemned those who were attacking the Democratic coffee shop owner.
Councilor April Fournier shared that public discourse has turned nastier throughout the year that she's been on the Council, with a lot of "name calling" that had been increasing. She said that while "disagreement is important" on issues involving the city, they "draw the line when it becomes abusive, harmful and violent, it really crosses the line into harassment."