A sandwich is sparking conversations of race in Buffalo. This, after John Washington, who works for PUSH Buffalo, says an employee from Guercio and Son's made racist comments to him, and drew what he says appeared to be a monkey on his order. Now, he's speaking out, and says he hopes it helps start conversations of race in Buffalo.
"She called myself and the person I was with a monkey, a gorilla," said Washington. "Made pretty racist reference to the size of my lips."
Washington posted the photo on Facebook, and it went viral. So much that even loyal Guercio's customers heard about the situation.
"My heart just dropped because this never has happened in all the years that Guercio was opened," said Lawrence B. who says he goes to Guercio's at least twice a week.
"They're an excellent store, they serve the people very well," said another loyal customer who did not want to be named. "Everybody kids around with everybody, and that's the way it was supposed to be... a kidding matter."
But Washington says this is not a laughing matter.
"If she had not drawn this picture I don't believe anybody would've believed the story that I'm telling," said Washington, who's post as of Thursday afternoon has had 176 reactions and 149 shares.
He says it's a situation that goes beyond Guercio's walls.
"The focus should really be on race in the City of Buffalo," said Washington. "Unfortunately, this incident happened out of Guercio's but it could've happened at any business."
Guercio and Son's took action. One of the owner's released a statement saying they "do not condone or tolerate the type of behavior exhibited by our former employee," and added that they terminated her immediately.
"They're lovable people and I know the lady that got fired, I know she's hurting right now because she didn't mean anything by it," said Lawrence B.
The owner also says they've reached out to Washington to apologize directly.
"I hope that we can work out a plan for them to work on their relationship to benefit this community," said Washington.
Washington adds that he plans on meeting with the owner soon, and hopes this situation will start conversations about race in Buffalo.