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Facebook post accusing restaurant of blackface sparks controversy

A Facebook post of a black-and-white photo inside a Kalamazoo County restaurant is prompting some outrage over social media.

A Facebook post of a black-and-white photo inside a Kalamazoo County restaurant is prompting some outrage over social media.

The man who made the post claimed the photo in the restaurant was racist because it showed people painted with a black-face.

But, the owner said there's an entirely different story about the picture.

In the aftermath, threats were made to the restaurant which prompting police to respond.

The restaurant's owner said the picture in question was actually a black-and-white photo taken of two employees dressed up as members of the Blue Man Group.

Sandy Bloomfield has owned Julianna's Restaurant on Lake Street for close to 30 years.

“All the décor in the restaurant is in black and white,” Bloomfield said.

All over the restaurant's walls, there are collages of black and white photographs.

“This is the original before it was turned into the black and white,” Bloomfield said.

One picture in particular showed what Bloomfield said is two employees painted as the Blue Man Group during Halloween in 2009.

“Clearly, it's the blue man group,” Bloomfield said. “This picture has been on the wall for six years.”

But, one customer saw things differently.

In a Facebook post yesterday, the man claimed the two people had blackface costumes.

The post spread all over social media, prompting calls to boycott the restaurant with some making threats.

“We got a phone call saying they were going to come down here rioting and they were going to come in here and wreak havoc,” Bloomfield said.

On social media, Julianna's Restaurant responded saying, "After this stunt, blue people will be given one free meal as an apology for the photo."

A response Strick Strickland, Kalamazoo's NAACP chapter president said seemed sarcastic.

“I think that says I don't take how others feels seriously, and I think they should,” Strickland said.

“How they responded, might not have been the best, but what they could do protect the business,” Bloomfield said.

Later on, the restaurant issued a corrected statement.

Meanwhile, Strickland and Bloomfield believe this situation can serve as a learning opportunity.

“I think that what we need to do in these situations is try to educate one another,” Strickland said.

“I hope that people, when people see something, they can ask instead of jumping to conclusions,” Bloomfield said.

Bloomfield said she received a large outpouring of support from her customers and others in the community.

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