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Pizza shop cancels Senate candidate Lauren Witzke’s local meet and greet after online pressure campaign

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A meet and greet at Grotto Pizza Pensylvania Ave in Delaware for Republican Senate candidate Lauren Witzke has been canceled after online activists started a petition to get the event shut down.

According to Witzke, about 30 paying customers were due to attend the meet and greet and Grotto Pizza shut it down on the day it was due to take place.

The petition was started a couple of days before Witzke’s event and complains that her political platform is discriminatory towards Grotto Pizza’s customers and that “by supporting her you are showing that you do not care about these people.” It also accuses her of representing “actual hate groups” because the men’s group the Proud Boys provide security at her rallies and because she did an interview with the website VDARE.

After the petition racked up 294 signatures, Grotto Pizza Pennsylvania Ave announced on Facebook that it had canceled Witzke’s meet and greet. The company’s Facebook post states:

“Over the past 24 hours, we were informed a private event scheduled in our Pennsylvania Avenue location this evening was actually a political ‘meet and greet’ and actively being promoted by the event organizer. Once this information was confirmed, we reached out to the organizer of the event to inform them Grotto Pizza will not allow the event to proceed in our restaurant.

Although we support our various perspectives, as a business, we believe in being politically neutral. We do not allow campaign events in any of our locations and do not support any specific candidates in any elections. We request that all guests respect each other and trust we will all gather in kindness and acceptance at Grotto Pizza.”

Grotto Pizza vice president Jeffrey Gosnear also told the Delaware News-Journal that the company had introduced a rule prohibiting political gatherings after the 2018 midterm elections.

However, in a statement to The Gateway Pundit, Witzke disputed Grotto Pizza’s characterization and said she had spoken to the manager, Dan Jeffers, who knew the meet and greet was a political event when it was booked.

The Gateway Pundit added that multiple political events, including “29th RD Democratic Committee Meeting” on December 19, 2019, “Meet Julie at Grotto Long Neck” (a meet and greet for Julianne Murray – a candidate for Delaware Governor) on September 14, 2020, and some of Witzke’s previous events have been held at Grotto Pizza.

Witzke told The Gateway Pundit:

“We understand that Grottos is a private company and they have a right to refuse service. We also understand that harassment campaigns from Antifa and Black Lives Matter are meant to intimidate, and why businesses wouldn’t want to involve themselves in politics.

However, Grottos lied to the Delaware News-Journal when they said they stopped hosting political events after the 2018 midterms, and that is unacceptable. They have held events for both Democrats and Republicans after 2018. It seems that they are not anti-politics, but rather anti-Lauren Witzke. Put simply, they caved to the violent far-left mob after the harassment campaign, and attempted to lie to the people of Delaware to avoid negative publicity.”

The shut down of Witzke’s event after an online pressure campaign is one of many similar stories during a year where numerous people have been deplatformed after online campaigns.

Earlier this month, the CEO of satirical Christian news website The Babylon Bee was blocked from a chapel speech at Palm Beach Athletic University after some students took to social media and demanded that he be prevented from speaking in the chapel.

While cancel culture has become increasingly prevalent, many of those impacted are starting to fight back and filing lawsuits when they get fired over their social media posts.

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