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The founder of a popular progressive Washington, D.C.-area restaurant chain stood by his previous calls to defund the police and abolish prisons after one of his joints was hit by an attempted armed robbery late Sunday night.
Andy Shallal — the founder and CEO of Busboys and Poets — confirmed to Fox News Digital that nothing was stolen from the business in the robbery and that he believes it was likely committed by local “kids with nothing better to do” that are looking to “terrorize people.”
“I think there’s been an uptick in crime, not just in D.C. but throughout the country, and D.C. is no exception, of course,” Shallal said in the Monday phone interview.
The restaurant chain founder defended his past “defund police” tweets on Monday, saying he stands by them “more than ever.”
“You cannot reform a broken system. You have to dismantle it and start over. Kudos to Minneapolis City Council for taking the lead to dismantle the police department,” Shallal tweeted in June 2020. “Next is abolishing prisons. #DefundPolice #protests #BlackLivesMatter #keepthemomentum”
“I think the problem we have here is when the police show up, the incident has already happened. The problem has already occurred,” Shallal told Fox News Digital. “So for us to have the police — it’s nice to have them to show up, but what are we doing to stop the root causes of what makes people do stuff like this?”
Shallal said that when he calls the police, it is “usually something terrible that’s just happened” and said that law enforcement “can’t un-terrible something.”
“When we talk about defunding the police, just to be clear, it is to divert some of the funds that go to the police to services that make it easier for the police to do their jobs,” Shallal said, adding he believes police departments should hire more social workers and mental health counselors to “take away” the police’s responsibility to “have to deal with all that and divert them from what they really need to do.”
Shallal said he sees the COVID-19 pandemic, social media and a lack of economic opportunities as a few factors driving the national crime surge, but said he does not “imagine” how the changing view of policing influenced by the “defund the police” movement would affect the surge in crime.
“Again, we have to look at the root causes, right? I mean, it’s one thing to put a Band-Aid on an injury, and it’s another thing to find out how the injury started and make sure that it doesn’t keep bleeding,” Shallal said. “We continue to bleed, we continue to put Band-Aids on, and it doesn’t help.”
Shallal said he is “not against police” and that he speaks to them “all the time,” and said that the police are dealing with the “most ridiculous things” they are “expected to deal with,” like “homelessness,” “mental health” and “social dysfunction.”
“It’s very hard for them to do their job,” Shallal said, adding that he has “never called the police other than if there’s a problem.”
Shallal called for defunding the police while claiming the violent protests after the murder of George Floyd that led to riots were becoming more peaceful because the police “have become less violent.”
“The demonstrations are getting more peaceful according to news. Nothing changed with the protesters, it’s the police that have become less violent,” he wrote in June 2020. “Defunding police and Refunding much needed social services is the way forward. #BlackLivesMattters #protests2020 #DefundPolice”
The bar chain founder has a history of calling for the defunding of police.
Shallal, who has donated thousands of dollars to Democrats, including Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign, has been in the headlines several times in recent years, including when he laid off hundreds of workers at the beginning of the pandemic and when progressive “Squad” Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., defended their anti-Israel stances at his restaurant in 2019.
“While we welcome conversations from individuals expressing different viewpoints and pride ourselves on being a venue for respectful conversations between diverse groups, we are also a safe space,” a restaurant spokeswoman told the Washington Free Beacon. “As such, we can not knowingly accept events designed to fund an agenda which our community members believe to be trampling on the rights of others.”
Three suspects walked into the D.C. bar late Sunday as the business was closing up shop, brandishing rifles and a handgun while demanding money.
Nothing was taken from the restaurant, and the robbers drove off in a four-door sedan, according to local reports.
This isn’t the first time one of Busboy and Poets’ locations has made it into the headlines for being at the center of a crime scene. Last July, a gunman opened fire outside and hit several buildings, including the Hyattsville location of Busboys and Poets.