MIDDLE RIVER—The protest taking place in front of Vince’s Crabhouse on Compass Road in Middle River reached an unprecedented 100th day on Sept. 12.
Prior to reaching its 100th day, the protest in front of Vince’s Crabhouse became the longest-running, some will call peaceful, others will call desructive, protest in Maryland history. No end is in sight for now, however.
Protesters, belonging to the Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse Foundation (Shutdown VCH) returned to their self-appointed places on the sidewalk in front of the parking lot of the building where the restaurant is located. Their demands have not changed over the 100 days, still insisting that the owners of the restaurant shut down the Middle River location.
The Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse Protest group, who have been protesting in front of the Middle River establishment every day for the past three-plus months, has vowed to continue to assemble until their sole demand is met – for Vince’s Crabhouse to leave Middle River.
“It’s not a joyous occasion that we’ve had to stay here for 100 days to knock out racism in our community, but we’re committed to it, and we commemorate the fact that we have been doing it extremely peaceful,” said Kellie Vaughan, the lead organizer of the Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse group.
“We’ve even held back people who wanted to damage their building. It takes a great team and we have a great team. We work together and we get it done.”
The Vince’s Crabhouse saga began on June 6 after Facebook posts from Vince Meyer, Jr., the son of owner Brenda Meyer, appeared on the internet. One of those posts pertained to damage to private property during protests in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Meyer had hinted that protestors wouldn’t loot or destroy social services buildings.
Late in the morning on June 6, Middle River residents assembled in front of the restaurant, demanding for it to close. Vaughan told local media outlets that she felt betrayed by Meyer’s words, and that those words disrespected the Black community. She and the other protesters who demonstrate in front of the establishment are demanding it close.
“(This will go on) until they leave,” Vaughan said.
“We are here every day. We just haven’t been sitting in protest. We’re here every day that they open. We’re here for every holiday – Fourth of July, Labor Day. We’ll be here for the other holidays to come.”
Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse commemorated the 100th day with a march around the block of Compass Road where Vince’s Crabhouse is located. Marchers marched around the block seven times. Vaughan said the number seven represents completion, and their hope is that their protest will soon reach completion.
Vince’s Crabhouse has taken measures to fight back. The owners filed a $1 million lawsuit against Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse. They also have filed a federal complaint with the US Department of Justice against Baltimore County, alleging that County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Jr. told the Baltimore County Police Department to stand down during the protests.
Vaughan said that the intimidation tactics are coming from Vince’s. Vaughan alleged that a restaurant supporter drove their pickup truck onto the curb in an attempt to hit protesters. Vaughan showed The Avenue News in July a video of Vince Meyer, Jr. admitting to spraying a protester in the eye with a water hose.
“Their behavior hasn’t changed,” Vaughan said. “The intimidation tactics keep building.”
“We’re still here.”
Ricki Vaugh, a former Baltimore City mayoral candidate who also has been active in the protest against Vince’s Crabhouse, called the 100th day of protest “unfortunate,” that people still have to fight in 2020 to be treated with respect and equality. Vaughn spoke at the intersection of Compass Road and Middle River Road, just down the street from the establishment.
“That’s exactly the reason why we’re here, when folks have so much hate and they think we have to tolerate it and accept it,” Vaughn said. Today, as it marks our 100th day, this has been the longest peaceful protest.”
“Although what they said about us and treat us the way they treat us, you don’t see our windows damaged. You don’t see their homes being vandalized. You don’t see rocks being thrown at them. Yet, you see folks come at us with baseball bats.”
Baltimore County Police did arrested a man in front of Vince’s Crabhouse after he threatened demonstrators with a bat in June of this year.
The suspect, who appeared intoxicated, retrieved a bat from his car after engaging in a verbal exchange with the demonstrators in the 600 block of Compass Road at 5:16 p.m. on June 20. Officers were already present and intervened when the suspect approached the demonstrators with the bat. He was placed under arrest without incident.
Vaughn said the Meyer family assumed in the beginning that protesters would assemble in front of their restaurant for just five days and then forget about what happened. Ninety-five days later, the protesters have been returning to their posts without missing a day, according to both Vaughn and Vaughan.
Vince’s Crabhouse shut down all five of its Baltimore-area locations for nine consecutive days, symbolizing George Floyd being held to the ground with the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on his neck for nearly nine minutes. After nine days, all five locations reopened. The protests, and the alleged intimidation tactics, have not stopped.
For more than three months, Maryland’s longest running protest has been tense, heated, and even nonsensical at times. But until the Meyer family closes its Middle River establishment, the members of Shutdown Vince’s Crabhouse will continue to stand on the sidewalk in front of the Vince’s Crabhouse parking lot.