The owner of a Bermagui coffee shop who made an offensive Australia Day sign almost three weeks ago says he continues to be the victim of verbal and physical abuse.
“This week, I replaced the glass window of my shopfront, as it had been smashed during the night,” the owner of the Mister Jones open studio and espresso bar said in a Facebook post on Saturday, February 13.
“My staff opened the door at 7am to serve my regular coffee crowd.
“I spent the day cleaning broken beer bottles and glass from every corner of my studio.”
On January 25, a blackboard sign was put up in Mister Jones saying “Yes, we’re open on national dickhead day” – a reference to them being open for business on Australia Day.
A photo taken of this sign went viral on social media, leading to “graphic and explicit death threats” on the owner’s voicemail account as well as emails of “unprintable abuse and describing group plans for physical attacks”.
On Saturday, the owner put up a new post on his Facebook account detailing the threats he has continued to receive due to his sign.
He said he is still being abused via calls, texts and emails, his staff have been threatened from the curb and customers have been warned not to enter his shop.
“I was pushed into a corner one evening by two local men who explained that ‘white people fighted and died for this country’,” he said.
The owner also claimed to be the victim of acts of vandalism, as aside from having his espresso bar’s window broken, eggs and flour have been thrown over his shopfront.
The vandalism has taken a financial toll on him, who said he struggles to hide the evidence of physical damages and the emotional strain from his young child.
In the Facebook post, the aggressors are described as “cultural molecules, not activists” who are “the natural outgrowths of Australian history; a history that they frequently cite, but never study”.
“They seem incapable, also, of recognising the disproportionality of their hatred,” the owner said.
“As the days wear on, my simple chalked jibe becomes still truer.
“Those most offended by the blackboard have committed themselves to proving its veracity.
“Of course, these ‘patriots’ would be the first to protest should their own freedom of expression be curtailed.”
By 12noon on February 14, the Facebook post had received over 2000 “likes” and about 430 shares, while the owner’s earlier post explaining why he put up the sign in the first place has received over 30,000 “likes” and almost 7000 shares.
Since the story went viral across various media agencies on Australia Day, the owner said he has received many messages of support from across the country and the world.
“The show of unity, from new friends and old, was so much appreciated,” he said.