A 19-year-old Minneapolis man was charged Friday with allegedly altering a Brooklyn Center Arby’s sign to include racial and sexual slurs, prompting the company to apologize after photos made the rounds on social media.
Usindini Christopher Colling-Harper is charged with gross misdemeanor criminal defamation, along with disorderly conduct and public nuisance, both misdemeanors, in connection with the Sept. 1 incident at the fast-food restaurant in the 5400 block of Brooklyn Boulevard.
According to charges, a Brooklyn Center police officer was flagged down by a passing driver, who pointed out the advertising sign, which was altered to read “Now Hiring [groups described with racial and sexual slurs]. The officer removed the message and returned to the restaurant once it opened. A manager said the last employees left the restaurant at 12:15 a.m.
A detective reviewed Facebook and noted that the first person to post a picture of the altered sign was “Chris Harper” at 3:31 a.m. The photo was accompanied by the caption “Seems like Arby’s hiring in bc.”
The detective spoke with Harper’s girlfriend, who admitted that he told her he altered the sign “because he thought it was funny.”
The detective then met with Harper, who admitted he changed the letters on the sign “because he was bored while waiting for a bus and thought it would be funny.” He admitted taking a picture of the sign and posting it to Facebook.
According to charges, the photo caused outrage that affected the business. The manager at Arby’s said they have had to unplug their phones during business hours “because people have been calling to yell at, harass and threaten the employees.” Others have gone though the drive-through and yelled at employees through the intercom,
“The manager informed the detective that she and the employees were also offended by the sign, but because people attribute the message to them, they are stressed out and afraid to come to work,” charges said. The business also has suffered a “considerable” loss of revenue since the sign was altered.