Fifth and Federal owner apologizes for mask tweet that sparked violence in Lynchburg

‘We’re sorry for the hurt that it caused.’

Josh Read, owner of First and Federal (WSLS 10)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – Fifth and Federal owner Josh Read is apologizing for a tweet from his restaurant that launched a riot in Lynchburg Sunday night into Monday morning.

“I’m at a loss, shocked. We were so devastated over the past couple months from COVID, you know, the whole corona-thing, that it blinded us to that tweet that was in relation to the mask thing. It blinded us to how severely it hurt the African American community and that was never, ever, ever the intention. We love our community that we’re in and that’s why we came here,” said Fifth and Federal owner Josh Read. "We love all of our neighbors and people in this community. We’re just really saddened to see how badly they were hurt from that. That was never our intention. I’d love for community leaders to reach out so that we could peacefully discuss, moving forward, like what we can do with the community.

Read said he wanted to address protesters last night, “but it was just a lot of very, very, very angry people and it wasn’t maybe the safest time to do that.”

Originally, there was a peaceful protest happening outside the restaurant, but that ended at about 6:45 p.m.

Later in the night, more people gathered and it was during that gathering that people threw rocks at police officers, Fifth and Federal and the auto garage nextdoor.

“We sincerely want to reach out and talk to the community leaders and sit down and figure out what we can do together to make this community stronger and better and not to have to damage and hurt one another,” continued Read.

He said he’s not opposed to protests, but thinks what happened Sunday night got out of hand, “I think protests are fantastic. Peaceful protests, that’s what they were. I’m not sure why, but it just really, really spiraled out of control.”