PIMA COUNTY, AZ – Kelly Walker, owner of Viva Coffee House, is faced with being sued by Pima County over miscommunication. The county wants them to use plexiglass. Walker wants the harassment from the community that was instigated by the county to stop.
The two-year-old family-owned coffee shop is taking a hard stand against what it sees as harassment and Pima County officials are in turn threatening legal action to force compliance. In a memorandum from the Pima County Board of Supervisors regarding Walker’s “complaints about the mask requirement.”
However, Walker is more upset about the “Wall of Shame” and the aggressive bullying tactics trying to put them out of business, and to cause physical harm.
He went in front of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, where he was arrested.
This is an awful violation of free speech and an abuse of power. I support Viva Coffee House 100%! https://t.co/UnLg1hY5Vc
— Mitchell Bay (@Mitchell_Bay7) September 17, 2020
He explained the background of what had happened. He wanted to tell the board what kind of horrendous posts he had been getting, and he attempted to read some of those threats to the board during the call to the audience.
Small business owner arrested for quoting threats his family & staff received after his business was posted on the counties 'wall of shame' website of businesses who do not comply with mask mandates https://t.co/K77ydncGlt pic.twitter.com/zw7F2pcMiE
— Spiro (@o_rips) September 18, 2020
The profanity he used from the social media posts got him arrested. He was led out of the Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting in handcuffs. This is after the county officials placed his business on the “Wall of Shame.”
Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Ramon Valadez, who was rejected by voters during the 2020 Democratic Primary, would not allow Walker to proceed with his comments even after he explained the origin of the comments. He reassured the board of supervisors that he would not repeat the foul language.
Valadez, ordered deputies to escort Walker out of the meeting room. The deputies were reluctant but followed orders. According to Arizona Independent Daily, as Walker handcuffed, the arresting officer told him not to “resist.” In response, Walker said:
“I am not resisting, I am just strong.”
UPDATE: @PimaSheriff releases statement following the arrest of the Viva Coffee House owner during the Board of Supervisors meeting this week. The owner was sharing threatening messages he received following a #COVID19 health department review. pic.twitter.com/BUS38Q2iwV
— Melissa Egan (@_MelissaEgan) September 18, 2020
He told KOLD News 13:
“I didn’t want to do this. But they needed to understand, they needed that shock to finally understand what local businesses are going through.”
Today, I (Kelly) was led out of the Pima County Commission chambers in handcuffs and arrested. This video tells some of the story. I did this for all of you who don't have a voice, who have been bullied, harassed and your livelihoods taken away.https://t.co/IGVybNQwzD
— Steven Del Rizzo (@stevendelrizzo) September 18, 2020
He wants and apology from the board and a change in policy which doesn’t shame businesses. The board has voted to reconsider the proposal.
According to Viva’s Facebook page, post with a letter that the owner wrote and emailed to the County Commissioners, they have been diligent and gone above and beyond the call of duty with the County Health Department. It was a cordial relationship. Walker said:
“Over the months of the Pandemic, we have done our best to understand and implement shifting, often-confusing proclamations, delegations of enforcement, etc.”
The Health Department praised Viva Coffee House for months for working with the department. Viva La Coffee House had open communication with them, and the public. Then a situation occurred.
Allegedly, a woman came in and took photos of six mothers and their kids. Many of them did not consent or politely turned down the request to have their photos taken by the woman.
This is understandable because even the news will not take a picture of a child without the parents’ consent. There are different laws that apply in different places. In a public place pictures are fair game.
In a privately owned business, such as Viva Coffee House, it would be determined by the owner. In which case there probably needs to be a double check on the Arizona laws regarding photographing children.
The people were eating and drinking coffee. That’s what one does in a coffee house. The lady taking the pictures turned around and sent the pictures to the county Health Department claiming that 40 people were in the shop without masks, and the coffee house had a no-mask policy.
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The Health Department, however, has taken a dim view of this situation and the inspector give a surprise visit. They discussed things, and then the coffee shop made adjustments on some minor things, and they received an e-mail they were in compliance.
Viva La Coffee House was put on a public noncompliance list. This is dubbed by Walker, “The Wall of Shame” despite their efforts to comply and even receiving an e-mail that they were in compliance. They called to try to have it removed, but they were told it would take up to a week to have their business removed from the list.
Threats started pouring in. They received an onslaught of fake reviews, hateful messages, threats of physical harm, and more. The owner of the coffee shop asked for help. They ignored it. The inspector showed up for a surprise inspection, and he requested she leave and not return.
This particular post received 89 reactions and 63 comments and 16 shares.
Most comments are positive. One says:
I am so proud to see a local business stand up to this tyranny. I have been disgusted watching so many people stand idly by, complaining, but not acting. My family will support your business in any way! True patriots
Gretchen Wirges does this to EVERYONE. It’s ridiculous. She has been on you guys since Day 1 about something. She is just a miserable person in general.
In this post it shows a sample of the people that Pima County sends to shame them into doing the right thing. You know the typical nonsense they use, it’s their M.O., using fake reviews, threatening the family and staff, fill the Facebook feed with hateful comments, and no liberal rant is ever complete without calling a person a racist, misogynist, Nazi and so forth.
Here’s a small sampling of the kinds of people Pima County sends after local small businesses (with their “snitch” system and public shaming website). They post fake reviews, pepper your feed with disgusting comments, threaten your family and staff…then claim you are a racist, misogynist—fill in the blank accordingly.
He states that he won’t be intimidated by a county administration who uses people to bully hard-working people. He makes it clear he’s doing this not because it’s easy, but because he loves his community.
This Facebook post got 55 reactions, 26 comments, and 6 shares. Some of the responses include:
“I will come try your coffee now. Never heard of you before but we’ll stop by tomorrow when we come into town. People need to vote these supervisors out in November.”
“I don’t even live there, but I’ve been following your story. I support you 100%. Stand strong.”
“God that’s so upsetting. I’m so sorry. My husband came in this morning, we’ve never been before, and loved your little shop. We got two coffees, a hot chocolate and some macaroons. We’ll be coming back to show our support!”
“Their propaganda shows a picture of a masked baby 👶 which says “Lives over Property”. I wonder do they even know what they are writing and saying anymore. Because the agenda which has been pushed for many decades has not been on the side of babies and children. Just my opinion, but seems sort of obvious. I suppose in 2020 the graphics and lingo can be used to fit one agenda and then thrown out the window for the next agenda. Confusing times.”
“Only recently discovering VIVA I am new fan and loyal customer! Thank you not only for the fantastic coffee but for taking a stand against bullies and having a stellar small business that exemplifies local community heart and soul! VIVA is amazing!”
Some of the bad reviews and bad reviewees:
According to KOLD 13 News, Pima County continues to aggressively pursue action against the business. In a letter sent to the business, Viva had until September 21, 2020 to come into compliance of face mask penalties which include a $1,000 a day fine and $10,000 for each violation.
Loni Anderson, a division manager for the health department , was the only one who bothered to respond to KOLD 13 News. She said:
“The decision to take legal action or not would be up to the Board of Supervisors as this has been referred to the BOS.”
Garret Lewis is the Host of the Morning Ritual, weekday mornings 6 – 10 a.m. on KNST AM 790 on the radio and the iHeartRadio App posted this. He had him on KNST AM 790. This post received 194 reactions, 45 comments and 31 shares. Walker is receiving a lot of people willing to help him. Some of the comments are:
“I dropped by Viva yesterday. There was a county Sheriff supervisor in there sipping a cup of coffee. Seemed to be enjoying his coffee and talking to folks.”
“Viva was packed today at 11. Great place, great coffee, great people. Stop by and get some gift cards!”
“It should be a misdemeanor to use county resources or electronic devices to cause economic damage to any business. Those county supervisors that are letting this happen should be removed from office at the next election.”
Now with the looming threat of being sued, both Walker and the County refuses to back down.
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