Originally Published in the Miami Herald
Mike Stunson - March 15, 2021
A Texas restaurant owner says he found threatening messages written on the windows of his business Sunday, days after he criticized Gov. Greg Abbott rescinding statewide mask policies.
Red graffiti covered the windows of San Antonio’s Noodle Tree restaurant, photos show, forcing the owner to open later than scheduled.
It followed an appearance last week on CNN, where owner Mike Nguyen offered his opinion on Abbott dropping the mask mandate.
“I will say that the governor doesn’t have us Texans’ interest at play at this point,” Nguyen said. “I think it’s more of a personal interest, I think the decision to drop the mask mandate is selfish and cowardly and there’s no reason to do it. Dropping the mask mandate will not help the economy, it will not help us open and a lot of us feel that he’s putting a lot of us in danger.”
Nguyen has lymphoma and had a loved one die of coronavirus, he told KENS-5.
More than 45,000 people have died in Texas from the coronavirus, including more than 3,100 in San Antonio’s Bexar County, according to statewide data.
Messages written in red paint on Nguyen’s business include “Kung Flu,” “No Mask,” “Ramen Noode Flu,” “Hope U Die” and “Go Back 2 China.”
But as Nguyen told KENS-5, he’s not Chinese. He’s half Vietnamese, half French.
San Antonio mayor Ron Nirenberg thanked neighbors who helped clean the graffiti off the restaurant.
The Asian American Alliance of San Antonio, along with the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, is calling on local law enforcement to “investigate this hate crime and bring the criminal(s) to face justice.”
“The San Antonio Asian American community stand in unity with our fellow Asian American and support their right and freedom to express their lawful opinions without fear or retribution said,” a joint statement read. “This ugly display of hate and ignorance that was perpetrated on the Noodle Tree Restaurant has no place in San Antonio where the diversity of our community is embraced by our residents.”
Anti-Asian hate crimes reported to police in the United States’ 16 largest cities increased 149% in 2020, despite overall hate crimes down 7%, according to research from the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism.
Nguyen said on CNN his business closed for six months during the pandemic and it may be forced to close for good if another coronavirus spike occurs.
Prior to Sunday’s vandalism, the business owner said he had received death threats on social media for his comments on CNN, according to the San Antonio Current.
He followed his CNN appearance with a Facebook post Wednesday where he did not back down from his comments.
“Our governor has betrayed us, but that doesn’t mean we have to follow him blindly,” Nguyen wrote. “Today we show the whole country that we aren’t a joke that the governor has made us out to be.”