Top Dog worker in Berkeley loses job after he's outed as Charlottesville protester

BERKELEY, Calif. — A man has lost his job at a hot dog eatery with a strong libertarian bent in Berkeley, Calif., after photos of him taken at a gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., surfaced on social media.

Top Dog, a chain of three fast-food restaurants, said Cole White "voluntarily" resigned after management was alerted that he participated in a rally Friday night at the University of Virginia in which white supremacists carried tiki torches and shouted Nazi slogans.

Within hours, Top Dog placed fliers in its eateries stating: “Effective Saturday 12th August, Cole White no longer works at Top Dog. The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog. We believe in individual freedom and voluntary association for everyone."

A "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalists in Charlottesville ended in bloodshed Saturday when a car rammed a crowd of counter protesters, injuring 19 people and killing a 32-year-old woman.

White was the first named by a Twitter account, @YesYoureRacist, run by Logan Smith of Raleigh, N.C., which has been posting photographs and unmasking the identities of participants in Friday's march and in some cases naming their employers.

The account also identified students at the University of Nevada and Washington State University. Both schools issued statements condemning racism.

White's presence at Friday's march and subsequent resignation thrust Top Dog into the national spotlight. Its Facebook and Yelp pages were overrun with comments and criticism.

Berkeley police added extra patrols over the weekend after Top Dog was targeted by a "credible threat." Berkeley Police Sgt. Andrew Frankel would not disclose the nature of the threat but said officers continued to keep an eye on the Top Dog eateries on Tuesday.

Founded in 1966 on Durant Avenue near the UC Berkeley Campus, Top Dog is a fixture of the local gastronomical scene and a favorite of college students, known as much for the provocative libertarian articles that cover its walls as it is for its tasty "kosher-style" hot dogs.

A man who picked up the phone at Top Dog headquarters declined to answer any questions or to give his name.

In a statement, Top Dog said "individual freedom and voluntary exchange are core to the philosophy of Top Dog."

A portion of Top Dog's website is called "Propergander," with essays from the libertarian Ludwig von Mises Institute. A recent essay posted on the site criticized Google for “appeasing modern Social Justice Warriors" when it fired James Damore for circulating a manifesto criticizing the Internet giant's diversity efforts. 

“We pride ourselves on embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual’s choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law,” Top Dog said. “We do respect our employees’ right to their opinions. They are free to make their own choices but must accept the responsibilities of those choices.”

Top Dog denied reports that White was fired or that it "knowingly employs racists and promotes racist theology."

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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