ARCANUM — Be careful what you post online.
Controversy is now swirling around a local eating establishment, which has taken to social media to disavow online comments many perceive to be derogatory towards President Donald Trump and his supporters.
The Old Arcana, in Arcanum, Ohio, posted a lengthy explanation on its Facebook page Friday in response to the controversy over earlier social media comments posted by one of its owner, Jeffrey Besecker, who is also listed as the chef at the eatery.
On January 30, on his personal Facebook page, Besecker stated that the Old Arcana “will be closed, Monday, Feb. 20th. In honor of Not My President’s Day. We will re-open the following day, Feb. 21st for normal business hours…”
According to its website, Old Arcana is normally closed on Mondays.
Besecker’s Facebook page was deactivated within two days of his “Not My President’s Day” post. However, within hours, Facebook users had created screen captures of that post and a number of other inflammatory posts regarding President Trump, including one in which Besecker stated, “This has me BEYOND p- off! If this happens, I will personally storm the gates of the White House, and strangle the bastard with my bare hands,” in reference to an online story from lgbtqnation.com titled “Sources: Trump executive order allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination is coming soon.”
The restaurant issued a statement Friday that said it is the “victim of a vicious and intentional online attack.”
The post claims that “an individual who was not connected in any way with our business and was not a personal Facebook connection, dug through the back end of one of our personal pages, cherry picked single posts, then posted them in a group forum with the express intent to harm our business.
“These posts were taken out of context and intentionally manipulated to give the illusion of impropriety. The posts have gone viral and have now been shared multiple times, gaining momentum because they are fueled by anger with each share. This has now unfortunately resulted in threats of vandalism to our property and physical harm to us individually. The appropriate authorities have been contacted about these threats.”
The social media response to the Old Arcana’s followup post, as well as to Besecker’s other posts, was heated. Besecker’s original posts were shared hundreds of times on social media, including on a local garage sale site, Darke County Rummage Sale, where members left hundreds of comments and memes against the restaurant.
Facebook user Matt Klontz, was among hundreds to share Besecker’s post asking Facebook friends to boycott the restaurant offering to readers that Besecker was “mentally unstable.”
“He has threatened the President of the United States. Who knows what he would do if he knew a Trump supporter was eating in his restaurant,” his post read.
Another wrote, “This from a local business owner of The Old Arcana in Arcanum is shameful and seriously concerns me as there’s no telling what kind of treatment a Trump supporting customer may receive at his establishment.”
In fact, many commenters shared those same feelings. The restaurant’s online statement addressed those feelings by writing, “We at The Old Arcana are peaceful, loving, hard working individuals who would NEVER turn away anyone because of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, veteran status, disability, protected status OR political ideals or affiliation. Any statements you may have recently read that are to the contrary to this statement are inherently FALSE.
“We have never planned any formal event or closing based on political ideals. We will not now, nor will we EVER intentionally harm someone, either physically or online simply because we believe different things. We find this practice disgusting and unconscionable.
The Daily Advocate called the Old Arcana for comment. A man answering the phone identified himself as the restaurant’s owner, but declined to make a statement regarding the eatery’s Facebook post. When asked for specific information as it related to the threats of vandalism and physical harm referred to in the post, the owner said, “Legally, I am not saying anything at this time.”
Old Arcana, said on its Facebook page that reported threats to the business were being investigated and that further comments on its post had been “temporarily blocked.”
Arcanum Police Chief Andrew Ashbaugh said his department had not been contacted by the business to investigate threats.