A Chula Vista coffee shop is taking action against a man they say went on a screaming rampage inside their business last week because of a Black Lives Matter sign.
CHULA VISTA, Calif — Business owners Alex McDaniel and Preston Burris say an unprovoked incident recently took place at the start of their live music night at Brew Bar in Chula Vista.
Cell phone video shot by TikTok user “HeyThisIsDrey” shows 68-year-old Howard Freelove yelling and banging on the counter outside Brew Bar on Third Avenue on Dec. 1 around 7:30 p.m.
Freelove is heard shouting “Kill me, man. Kill me, I am white!”
In a tirade the business owners said was sparked by a “Black Lives Matter” sign hanging in the front window, Freelove shouted directly in front of the guitarist named Victor’s face.
Not stopping there, Freelove screams the F-word multiple times when the Brew Bar owner asked him to leave or said he would call the cops.
That’s when Freelove shouted back, “Kick me out. Kick me out. Is it because I’m white?”
When Freelove finally walked out, he was shown angrily slamming and damaging the door.
Chula Vista police officers showed up and arrested Freelove. Police said he got a citation for misdemeanor vandalism, which is a non-bookable offense and is to later appear in court. Police estimated the door damage to be at $400.
“You could cut it with a butter knife that’s how tense it was. I thought he was a crazy homeless guy in the beginning, and then it started to feel more like a targeted attack,” said Preston Burris, the chef and CEO of Cultivated Greens, which has operated inside Brew Bar for four weeks.
Brew Bar owner Alex McDaniel says Freelove “was very aggressive, we did not know how far it would go. He bursts in and shouts ‘you guys are all a bunch of racists’ and just starts screaming and yelling more profanity, and like this is a family establishment.”
McDaniel said they were stunned and tried to continue with their Live Music Night of singing Spanish ballads, or boleros.
McDaniel said for safety, his family suggests he remove the “Black Lives Matter” sign.
“I’m definitely not going to be taking down my sign. It is a part of Brew Bar, but you know what I’m thinking is maybe I’ll put it up in vinyl,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel says Freelove has harassed other Chula Vista businesses like this before, and he is filing a restraining order.
Chula Vista Police Lt. Dan Peak released a statement saying, “I have personally reached out to the victim regarding this incident and CVPD will continue to do everything in our power to maintain a safe and inclusive environment for everyone in our community.”
The business owners hope Freelove’s harassment stops.
“Just getting more awareness about this guy, you know, he gets to do this stuff all the time, and walk scot-free and that is not OK,” Burris said.
McDaniel said he doesn’t think that Howard Freelove represents the majority.
“I always felt like Chula Vista was one of the more progressive cities in the South Bay and in San Diego County. I want to clamp down on this type of behavior in general, this was an eye-opening event that truly this issue is not over yet,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel said his court hearing for a restraining order against Howard Freelove is Dec. 21, and Freelove is expected to be in court for his misdemeanor charge early next year.