ST. LOUIS – The co-founder of the Pi Pizzeria chain has drawn the ire of a local police union and the national Blue Lives Matter movement for comments made criticizing the police response to protests in St. Louis.
Chris Sommers said his businesses have been targeted by harassing phone calls and negative online reviews over his remarks.
The site ‘Blue Lives Matter’ published a story about Sommers on Tuesday, highlighting tweets in which he referred to St. Louis police as “dimwits” and said authorities were “terrorizing our town, hiding under tactical gear.”
Our news partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that Sommers deleted his Twitter account sometime Tuesday evening.
The St. Louis County Police Association reposted the Blue Lives Matter story on its own Facebook page, encouraging followers to call Pi Pizzeria locations “if you feel like your freedom of speech needs a little exercise.”
Sommers took to his personal Facebook page and described his interaction with St. Louis police Friday night in front of his Central West End business. The Riverfront Times reposted his comments in their entirety.
Sommers said he instructed a store manager to hand out bottled water to both police and protesters earlier that night “in an attempt to calm nerves.” Later that evening, he said police came back to the area and began firing pepper pellets indiscriminately. Sommers said there were no agitators at his restaurant, “only guests and neighbors and a few people with cameras.”
Sommers admits to screaming and cussing at police and said they responded by firing a tear gas canister at him. Somebody next to Sommers picked up the canister and threw it back at police. Sommers said police then charged at him, forcing him to retreat into his restaurant and lock the door.
The Pi Pizzeria owner said he was forced to close his business out of fear of the police, not the protesters or the people who went on to vandalize other storefronts later that evening. Sommers wrote he has long supported police:
“What pains me the most about this is how much support I have given to the police since I opened my business. Cops eat either for free or 50 percent off every time they dine with us in uniform. I donate to all of their non-profits and events, any time they ask. But that doesn't matter. No good deed goes unpunished.”
Sommers concluded his post by asking Mayor Lyda Krewson to fire Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole for his poor performance as head of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.