A man is out of a job at a popular Berkeley hot dog eatery after photos of him attending a torch-lit gathering of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va., were circulated on social media.
Top Dog, a restaurant chain, said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times on Monday that it spoke to the employee, Cole White, after it came to management's attention that he had participated in a march through the University of Virginia on Friday night. Participants carried tiki torches and shouted the Nazi slogan "Blood and soil," among other racist chants. The march was the first event in the weekend's deadly "Unite the Right" rally.
"Cole chose to voluntarily resign his employment with top dog and we accepted his resignation," Top Dog said in its statement.
White was first identified by the Twitter account Yes, You're Racist, which also shared a photograph of a blond man in a striped shirt amid a crowd of other white men carrying torches.
Top Dog dismissed accounts that it had fired White. The restaurant chain also repudiated reports that it "knowingly employs racists and promotes racist theology."
"That too is false," the business said.
After talking with White, the restaurant chain taped signs to its doors saying, "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."
White couldn't be reached for comment.
Charlottesville was the scene of bloody clashes that erupted Saturday between counter-protesters and various white supremacist groups that had assembled to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park.
Shortly after the violence broke out, state officials declared a state of emergency and shut down the event.
Later, the driver of a gray sports car plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Authorities soon arrested the driver, identified as James Alex Fields Jr. The Ohio resident, 20, has been accused of second-degree murder and other charges. He is being held without bail.
On Monday, President Trump denounced the "racist violence."
"Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," the president said in a televised statement.
The president's statement came days after he was widely criticized for not specifically naming and condemning white supremacists for the violence in his initial speech Saturday.
Top Dog said it takes pride in "embracing and respecting all our differences and every individual's choice to do as that person wishes within the boundaries of the law."
"We do not endorse hatred or any illegal conduct. It simply is not part of our culture," the restaurant chain said.
The hot dog business said it respects its employees' rights to their opinions and said they can make their own choices, "but must accept the responsibilities of those choices."