FORT MYERS — UPDATE: March 31, 2022
On Thursday, the Lee County NAACP announced that it "has not proven the allegations of white supremacy against Bill Babamov of First Street Restaurant."
In a press release on Thursday the NAACP issued the following statement:
The Lee County NAACP has not proven the allegations of white supremacy against Mr. Babanov of First Street Restaurant. The Lee County NAACP specifically, I, James Muwakkil, apologizes to First Street Restaurant and their innocent staff who may have taken no part in the incident.
We are continuing our inquiry into the matter and Ms. Jacquelyn McMiller will hold a press conference at the restaurant in the very near future to address the issue.
Again, on behalf of the NAACP, I do apologize.
The organization says it's continuing to look into the incident.
ORIGINAL: March 25, 2022
Lee County NAACP leaders call it a “conversation towards peace”.
This comes after a local woman took to social media claiming racist motives from workers at First Street Restaurant in Downtown Fort Myers.
On Friday, the organization met with restaurant owner, Bill Babamov, to discuss concerns alleged by Nora Potts and others in the community.
Cameras were not allowed inside of the meeting. However, Lee County NAACP president James Muwakkil, says Babalov told him an employee did say they felt uncomfortable with the crowd that attended Potts’ first event two weeks ago. Muwakkil says the employee no longer works for the restaurant.
"He owns up to (it). That's part of the reason that she's no longer with the establishment. So when you look at that, there is some progress towards racial equality here,” Muwakkil says.
The local chapter of the NAACP’s president says Babamov did confirm that the police were called to the establishment during last weekend’s sit in. The restaurant owner also confirmed that an employee did say they felt “uncomfortable” with the group.
Some who participated in the sit in, most who were Black, say last Sunday they were told the kitchen had to close due to broken equipment. But, they say, white customers continued to receive service.
During Friday’s meeting, Muwwakil says Babamov denied that claim.
Bill Babamov did provide a statement to FOX 4:
"Today we received correspondence from the local NAACP chapter regarding alleged incidents at our restaurant involving certain staff. We take this matter seriously and are investigating the allegations. Our business is committed to diversity and inclusiveness, as demonstrated by our diverse staff, and we will be treating this matter in accordance with that commitment.”
The Lee County NAACP says they don’t want this issue to continue.
They’re calling for a full apology from Babamov.
The two plan to meet again, but a date has not been set.