Pizza chain fires VT worker who joined Charlottesville rally

An employee at a South Burlington chain pizza restaurant was fired Tuesday after he participated in this weekend's violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"Ryan Roy has been terminated," Skip Weldon, chief marketing officer for Boston-based Uno Pizzeria and Grill, told the Burlington Free Press on Tuesday evening.

Weldon added in an emailed statement: "We are committed to the fair treatment of all people and the safety of our guests and employees at our restaurants."

Following a high-profile Vice News report on the situation in Charlottesville, numerous online users identified Roy as a participant in the rally. He appears in the video carrying a torch and chanting white-supremacist slogans.

Roy, 28, of Burlington had worked as a cook at the Shelburne Road restaurant since 2016. He graduated from Essex High School in 2007.

Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Roy confirmed he attended multiple events in Charlottesville over the weekend, including the rally to protest the removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Roy said the reaction to his participation in the rally proves his beliefs about the liberal left. In addition to being fired, he said, people posted lies about him on social media, and some called the Vermont Department for Children and Families seeking to remove his child from his care.

"I think it kind of just proves my point, proves a lot of what I think, not that I needed further proof," Roy said. "I think it’s group think."

Roy said he favors separation based on race and a white nation.

"Obviously I would advocate for racial separation and racial nationalism or repatriation or even a return to — our country was a white country up until the 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act," Roy said. The act removed quotas that favored immigrants from northern Europe. 

Uno learned of the situation through social-media messages Tuesday morning and calls to the South Burlington pizzeria, Weldon said.

"As a result of the situation, the employee is suspended, and we are investigating the situation further," Weldon told the Free Press midafternoon Tuesday. "We'll be able to make a full statement tomorrow based on our investigation."

By Tuesday evening, Roy had been dismissed.

"Thanks for letting us know about this," Uno responded to one user from its official Twitter account.

"We are aware of the situation and are currently investigating it." Vermont is an "at-will" employment state, which means workers can be fired for any reason that is not legally prohibited, such as an employee's gender or race, said Jay Diaz of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If he's working at a private company, the First Amendment doesn't protect you from being fired," Diaz said.

Neo-Nazis and other white supremacists gathered Friday and Saturday in Charlottesville with plans to protest the removal of a statue of Lee. The rallies included a torch-carrying, Nazi-saluting event Friday night and another Saturday. Some participants wore Nazi-style garb and carried weapons, including semi-automatic rifles, clubs and mace, according to the authorities in Virginia.

Violence erupted as the white supremacists clashed with groups that gathered to oppose them.

A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, was killed and dozens more injured when one of the participants in the white-supremacist rally Saturday drove his car into a crowd of anti-Nazi demonstrators, according to the authorities.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, of Ohio has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit and run.

Two Virginia State Police troopers also were killed when their helicopter crashed while providing support to law enforcement on the ground during the violence.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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