New Orleans, LA – PJ’s Coffee revoked the franchise ownership of their French Quarter location after the franchisee made an offensive comment to anti-police basketball legend LeBron James on Facebook.
PJ’s coffee released a statement that said Stephen Bruno Jr. had been removed as the franchise owner because of a vulgar social media comment, WDSU reported.
James has been at the center of social media controversy after he posted a picture of the officer who shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant on April 20 with a threatening caption.
The Columbus Division of Police has identified the officer as Columbus Police Officer Nicholas Reardon, according to WBNS.
James captioned the picture of Officer Reardon – “YOU’RE NEXT” – followed by an hourglass that implied a countdown, and the hashtag “#ACCOUNTABILITY.”
Bodycam video released less than 24 hours after the incident showed that Bryant knocked one girl down and was going for another girl with a knife in front of police when she was shot.
After getting immediately backlash, the basketball star known as “King James” took the tweet down and replaced with it an explanation that many thought didn’t hold water.
“ANGER does any of us any good and that includes myself!” James tweeted. “Gathering all the facts and educating does though! My anger still is here for what happened that lil girl. My sympathy for her family and may justice prevail!”
Then he posted again to explain his initial tweet.
“I’m so damn tired of seeing Black people killed by police,” James tweeted. “I took the tweet down because its being used to create more hate -This isn’t about one officer. it’s about the entire system and they always use our words to create more racism. I am so desperate for more ACCOUNTABILITY.”
But not everyone has accepted James’ apology and that was likely what inspired the coffee shop franchisee’s offensive media post.
“Protect our Young Black Women & Men!” James posted to Facebook on May 4.
Bruno commented “Eat a [eggplant emoji]” beneath the Los Angeles Lakers’ star’s post.
The eggplant emoji is generally used to represent a penis.
User Ken Barnes recognized Bruno as a PJ’s Coffee franchisee, captured the post, and shared it on Twitter.
— Kenn Barnes, ESQ. (@kennbarnes) May 3, 2021
Less than 24 hours later, PJ’s Coffee announced it had “removed” Bruno as a franchisee.
“PJ’s Coffee does not tolerate hatred or disrespect of any kind,” the company tweeted on May 5. “The words used by Stephen Bruno Jr. were inappropriate and uncalled for. Our PJ’s Coffee brand and our locations take pride in supporting the diverse communities in which we serve.”
“Stephen Bruno Jr. has been removed as a franchisee from the locally owned and operated franchise location,” PJ’s coffee announced, and then directed people to the company website “to read more about how PJ’s Coffee is standing together.”
removed as a franchisee from the locally owned and operated franchise location, to read more about how PJ’s Coffee is standing together, please visit our website at https://t.co/j0QBzDNYmE.
— PJ's Coffee (@pjscoffee) May 5, 2021
But PJ’s Coffee didn’t elaborate on what the company meant by “removed as a franchisee,” Eater New Orleans reported.
Bruno operated the coffee shop in the 600-block of Chartres Street in partnership with his brother, Roy Bruno.
It was unclear whether Stephen Bruno would remain a silent partner in the operation or whether the company had revoked the entire franchise license from both brothers, Eater New Orleans reported.
The Police Tribune reached out to PJ’s Coffee for comment but had not received a response at publication time.