Boycott Bunny's: Stop Hate and Racism in SOMA

Boycott Bunny's: Stop Hate and Racism in SOMA

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SOMA Justice started this petition to Bunny's Sports Bar and

We are asking our community to stand together against a Bunny’s Sports Bar employee’s horrific racist altercation and assault on a Black family and longtime residents in South Orange. 

On Friday May 8, 2020, Aubrey Burgess, a local business owner was having car trouble in South Orange village.  His daughter CJ --  a local high school alumna and Navy veteran -- came to her father’s aid to jump his stalled car. 

As they were parked out of the way of traffic and waiting for the car to charge,  a white man in a pickup truck drove up and began blaring his horn at them. The Burgess family immediately recognized the man to be Ryan Pogany, the employee and son of Bunny’s Sports Bar owner Leslie Pogany. 

Pogany got out of the car and proceeded to scream racial expletives and slurs at the Burgesses about where they were parked (despite ample street parking available). Even as the Burgess family explained their stalled car and also identified themselves as regular Bunny’s customers, the man aggressively approached them. Standing only inches apart (violating social distancing guidelines), he screamed at Mr. Burgess to “go back to his country.” He told this Black father and daughter that they were  “taking up space in the world” and that they didn’t know “the way “things are done in this town.” He told them to leave HIS country. 

And, then -- Pogany called CJ a “nigger bitch.” 

[Note: Some of this attack was caught on video and witnessed by several people.]

In CJ’s own words: “I was born and raised in NJ. Went to school less than a block away at South Orange Middle School. Graduate of Columbia High School and served my country with high honors in the United States Navy. Raised with morals and respect for all human beings. But tonight I was subjected to just the color of my skin.”

We are shocked and horrified by this behavior in our towns. SOMA is a place committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity. These are NOT our values. 

Bunny’s owner -- Leslie Pogany-- has responded to news about this terrifying assault by trying to silence the victims -- she’s threatened legal action for sharing information about this attack and demanded that SHE receive an apology. 

This kind of unchecked racist vitriol has no place in SOMA. WE DO NOT accept business owners who fail to hold themselves, their employees, and their families accountable for this kind of behavior. These folks CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO HOLD LEADERSHIP POSITIONS or influence in our towns.  We need to send a clear and unequivocal message that our towns will not tolerate racists or those who protect them. 

Accordingly, we immediately call for the following:

  • South Orange Village Center Alliance must remove Leslie Pogany from its board and release a public statement condemning Ryan’s behavior. 
  • The South Orange and Maplewood Recreation Departments, the Baird and the South Orange Maplewood Baseball program must sever ties with Bunny’s as a major sponsor of the towns’ little league baseball program. We must communicate to our young people that bigotry and hate have no place in our community.
  • All community members should Boycott Bunny’s until: (1) Leslie and Ryan Pogany issue a public apology acceptable to C.J. and Aubrey; (2) Ryan is terminated or resigns from any employment or role with Bunny’s; and (3) Bunny’s agrees to implement meaningful anti-racist training for all owners and staff and agrees to make restitution to C.J. and Aubrey. 
  • Essex County Freeholders must revoke the Italian American Heritage honor bestowed upon Lesley Pogany in October 2019. 

By signing this petition, you are showing your support for these efforts and sending a message that you stand against hate in SOMA. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 5,000!
At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!