Protesters in St. Petersburg Wednesday night gathered outside a hip coffee shop to protest not George Floyd or police brutality, but a lawmaker more than 100 miles away.
Gathered in front of Intermezzo Coffee & Cocktails in downtown St. Petersburg, protesters targeted Howey-In-The-Hills Republican Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
Sabatini’s brother, Jarrett Sabatini, runs the coffee shop.
“Don’t forget his racist brother. We’re going to stand outside his business until he decides to take a real stance. His stance is neutrality,” protesters reportedly said, according to Tampa Bay Times reporter Josh Solomon.
Let’s get something clear. Anthony Sabatini is a loathsome individual. Google him.
He entered the political fray under almost immediate scrutiny for dressing in blackface in high school, and then, with a case of “I totally missed the point,” defended his youthful choice as one not based in race at all.
He dismissed arguments about confederate monuments as “political theater” in a liberal agenda.
So yeah, George Floyd protesters, be super pissed at Rep. Sabatini.
But should the sins of the brother hurt a local small business that has nothing to do with a lawmaker other than familial relation? I’d think not.
Anthony Sabatini would say otherwise, but his short tenure in Tallahassee suggests he’s not the greatest friend to the African American community.
While other conservatives are supporting peaceful protests and demanding justice for Floyd, Sabatini is tweeting threats. Jarrett Sabatini is just brewing some coffee and serving up craft beer.
The quote Solomon reported seems to suggest Jarrett Sabatini is complacent in his brother’s dangerous rhetoric. Maybe that’s so. Maybe it’s not.
Maybe they’re not speaking. Maybe Jarrett gets into fights with his brother over dinner about whether black protesters tired of being gunned down for no real reason other than the color of their skin should be met with empathy and action, not military-style assault weapons.
Maybe Jarrett doesn’t like to be in the limelight like his fiery brother.
The bottom line is, you don’t know.
Intermezzo is a locally owned business that just happens to be run by the brother of a notorious lawmaker.
Protesting in front of his shop, potentially wreaking financial havoc on a business already reeling from a global pandemic, seems pretty low on the totem pole of ways to get the point across.
If Anthony Sabatini is the one you have a problem with, take that to his doorstep.
These protests are an important moment in history. The message about rampant police brutality and racial inequality are crucial fights that demand action.
Camping out in front of a coffee shop isn’t going to do much to get the desired result. In the meantime, maybe you could ask to speak to the manager.