gentrifying brooklyn cafe accused of refusing to give candy to black children on halloween

November 3, 2017
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Treats for white kids, tricks for the Black ones. That was the mantra of a Bed-Stuy cafe this Halloween, according to a community leader who said she saw a barista at Strand Cafe refuse candy to black trick-or-treaters but hand it out to white ones.

Community Board 3 co-chair Oma Holloway told Patch she was waiting for her order at the Strand Cafe at 492 Nostrand Ave. on the afternoon of Halloween when she witnessed the cafe worker turn away three groups of Black trick-or-treaters, saying he had no candy to give.

But when two white children walked in with their mother and asked for candy, the employee picked a jar up off the counter and dropped treats into their bags, Holloway said.

Holloway then claims she approached the barista and asked him to explain himself, and when he didn’t she walked out without her order.

“I’m an advocate for young people and I’m not one to condone it if there was inappropriate behavior,” said Holloway. “But these young kids were polite.”

Poran Chowdhury, the owner of the cafe in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood of Brooklyn, wrote on Facebook that the candy Holloway saw on the counter was only available for sale. “We didn’t give out no candies yesterday to anyone,” Chowdhury responded, claiming that the employee kept silent when Holloway approached because his English was limited.

But Holloway claims she saw clearly that the white children wear trick or treating in costume, and never gave the employee money.

“I had a pretty clear vantage point,” Holloway told Patch. “That’s not what was going on.”

Horrified, Holloway assembled volunteers from the youth engagement organization she runs, MY BASE, and went back to the Strand to give out treats to trick or treaters of all races and ages, and eventually the cafe closed early, Holloway said. She also reached out to the Commission of Human Rights and fellow board members at Community Board 3 to discuss future actions, she said.

I guess this is what they mean when they call gentrifying neighborhoods “up and coming.”

Let Strand know how you feel on their Facebook page here.