COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – A liquor delivery business in Coquitlam appears to have gone dark amid a fierce online backlash against a photo posted on its website.
The photo depicts three cans of Coors Light with white, KKK-style hoods placed on top of them around a brown bottle hanging from the roof on a piece of string in what is clearly a reference to lynching.
It was posted on Monday, and since then, the entire Coquitlam Liquor, Tobacco and Food Delivery website has been taken down. The business’ Google reviews page appears to have been scrubbed, and its Yelp page has also been locked.
(Courtesy Layne Mikoda via Facebook)
However, screenshots posted to social media appear to show the owners defending the image, with one post reading “It’s only a photo of beer bottles, so it’s not racist.”
Another comment which appears to have been made on behalf of the business reads “Give it a break it’s funny.”
Many people online clearly disagree, accusing the company of promoting racism and calling for a boycott.
The picture began circulating on Facebook last night. So far the backlash online has been swift.
— Ben Mussett (@benjaminmussett) June 4, 2019
One social media user writes, “If things like this keep getting ignored it will become worse.”
Another says they’re “stunned”, “disgusted”, and “appalled” by the post.
Cpl. Michael McLaughlin with Coquitlam RCMP says an investigation has been opened into the incident and is ongoing. He says the threshold of proof for hate crimes can be difficult to meet for a Criminal Code charge.
“It’s not illegal to be dumb. It’s not illegal to be offensive. And I think everyone can agree, or most people would certainly agree, these posts are offensive. Whether they meet the threshold for criminal charge is another story,” he says. “We have simply not met the threshold for charges or arrests.”
NEWS 1130 has made attempts to contact the business, but the City of Coquitlam says Coquitlam Liquor, Tobacco and Food Delivery did not have an operating licence.
Market of free ideas working the way it’s supposed to: CCLA
It’s unclear what the circumstances are around the posting of this image. While Cara Zwibel with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association admits she doesn’t know anything about the company or who runs it, she doesn’t believe it’s surprising that there are people in Canada who may have racist views or who may not appreciate that a picture, like the one posted, isn’t funny.
“That’s not surprising, but I think for a business to think that this is a good idea obviously shows some very poor judgement,” Zwibel, who is the director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program at the CCLA explains.
She says much of the response shows how the “free market of ideas” is supposed to work.
“Someone puts something out there that most people find offensive and people respond quickly, and the company has to respond in one way or another,” Zwibel says. “It seems like here they’ve just disappeared, and I think that’s kind of the system working the way it should as opposed to involving the police or any sort of state actor. This is the people speaking out and saying ‘this is not something we want to see or something we appreciate.'”
Zwibel points out there is a lot of content online that people will find offensive, but she admits it’s not something the association is able to monitor or track on such a large scale.