A hot dog restaurant in Berkeley, California, fired one of its employees after a photograph circulated of him reportedly marching alongside white nationalists during the unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left three dead and dozens more injured.
The restaurant, Top Dog, posted an orange sign on their front door that announced the firing of Cole White, who was reportedly photographed carrying a flaming tiki torch during a gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
“Effective Sat. 12th August, Cole White no longer works at Top Dog,” the sign read. “The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog. We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone.”
A spokesman for the restaurant confirmed the firing of White, according to SFgate.
Twitter user @YesYoureRacist first posted zoomed-in pictures of white nationalists gathering in Charlottesville, asking others to identify those in the photographs. Some users asserted that White was one of those pictured, according to SFgate, and they had seen him working at Top Dog in Berkeley.
@YesYoureRacist later celebrated the firing of White, posting the image that allegedly shows White in Charlottesville alongside a statement from Top Dog announcing his dismissal.
Ansel Deng, a student at U.C. Berkeley, stopped by Top Dog to take a picture of the brightly-colored sign, according to ABC7.
“It's good that Top Dog is taking a stand against this kind of stuff,” Deng said. "It's crazy it's 2017 and we still have people who are just so backwards who just can't seem to wrap their heads around inclusivity.”
Melissa Caen, a legal analyst for KPIX5, told the media outlet that Top Dog had a legal right to fire White.
“It’s not a First Amendment issue,” she said. “Remember, that only protects you from actions by the government based on your speech. It doesn’t protect you from actions by your private employer. It’s also probably not a discrimination issue, because going to a rally like this, participating like this, doesn’t make you a member of a protected class.”
The unrest in Charlottesville began with a Friday night demonstration against the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general. A crowd of white nationalists marched on the University of Virginia campus with tiki torches, which some viewed as an homage to the Ku Klux Klan.
Tensions were high the following day, when counter protesters descended on the city.
Later that day, a car sped into a crowd of protesters Saturday, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed as they were surveying the riots, according to East Bay Times.