The owner of a Virginia restaurant who asked White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her family to leave Friday night explained her actions, saying Sanders’s support of Trump administration policies was at the heart of her decision.
Stephanie Wilkinson, co-owner of The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Va., told The Washington Post on Saturday that Sanders’s support of President Trump’s desire to ban transgender people from the military, in particular, was antithetical to her beliefs.
The restaurant employs several LGBT employees, Wilkinson said, some of whom voiced concerns over serving Sanders because of her previous comments defending Trump’s proposed ban.
“I’m not a huge fan of confrontation,” Wilkinson added. “I have a business, and I want the business to thrive. This feels like the moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”
Wilkinson told the Post Sanders worked in an administration that is “inhumane and unethical.”
She added that the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families who are apprehended illegally entering the U.S. also contributed to her staff’s concerns.
That practice, part of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, was halted by the president after ongoing backlash prompted him to reverse his administration’s position and sign an executive order to keep migrant families together.
“Tell me what you want me to do. I can ask her to leave,” Wilkinson said she told her staff. “They said yes.”
Sanders responded on Twitter Saturday morning, writing that she would continue to treat people she disagreed with on politics “respectfully.”
“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for [Trump] and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”
Jaike Foley-Schultz, who said he is a waiter at the restaurant, posted on Facebook that he waited on Sanders and her family “for a total of 2 minutes” before Wilkinson asked the party to leave.