Toledo business owner in hot water after Facebook posts

Published: Apr. 24, 2018 at 11:44 PM EDT
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"All it was was words," Jeff Kuhnle, owner of Twin Oaks Lanes said. "There was no action."

But little did Kuhnle know that his comments would create a firestorm that is affecting his family and business.

"I do fear for my safety," his wife Sharon said. "I fear for his safety. This is my husband and this is our business. Everybody makes a mistake. Everybody at some point says something that they shouldn't."

His remarks were made on Facebook. In one post, he talks about an experience at Franklin Park Mall where he uses a racial slur directed at Muslim women. In another he uses the same term, but names a different business.

Kuhnle says he was treated poorly and felt threatened in both situations and in the heat of the moment took to social media.

"It's the wrong words. You're sorry you put it that way but sometimes when you vent the wrong words come out," he said.

But his words have already been shared hundreds of times. Some people have taken to the Twin Oaks Lanes' Facebook page to leave reviews.

One person writes that Kuhnle is trash. This person also says they hope the business goes bankrupt. Another promises to never set foot in the bowling alley again and a third points out that there is no place for hate in the neighborhood.

"We are people, we are human beings," Nour, a Muslim woman from Toledo said. "We have our First Amendment right to practice our religion and the law protects [that]."

Nour is one of several people who plan to protest outside of Twin Oaks on Friday. She says it's important to take action to show that hate won't be tolerated in any form.

"I don't think we have room in our community for this kind of Islamophobic, bigoted, and, if you want to say, racist rhetoric," she said.

"The fact that he is vocally excluding a portion of the community is just unacceptable," Ruth Leonard, a spokesperson with the Community Solidarity Response Network of Toledo said.

Kuhnle is adamant that he is not racist and, instead, misspoke underestimating the reach of his own words. Both he and his wife say they welcome anyone to come by to have a respectful conversation about the situation.

"If you really want to know the truth, stop by and see us," Sharon Kuhnle said. "We'll sit down and talk to you and have a cup of coffee with you."

But is it too little too late?

"I think that's great that he wants to have the conversation, but, there will be financial consequences to the decision he's made as a business owner," Leonard added.

The Kuhnle's have also recently filed a police report saying they are being threatened and harassed over the situation. In some instances, according to the report, people are threatening vandalism to the building saying they'll "burn the building down."

In the meantime, the protest will be Friday at 6 p.m. across for Twin Oaks on Sylvania avenue. Organizers say they want everything to stay peaceful and also send a powerful message.