EDITOR’S

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Editor’s note: This video contains graphic language. Pastor Jordan Brown of the Church of Open Doors said he ordered a cake with the message “Love Wins” from Whole Foods in Austin, Tex., but the icing included a homophobic slur. (Pastor Jordan Brown and Kaplan Law Firm, PLLC)

Warning: This post contains graphic language.

Anyone who’s paid a visit to the Whole Foods flagship store in Austin, Tex., knows the location is the gem in the pricey grocery chain’s organic crown. As one reviewer once put it: “The 80,000-square-foot market, bar, eatery, makeup counter and pick-up joint (we suspect) makes our local branches look like the neighborhood 7-11.”

But one visitor to the Austin location says he was not so enthusiastic about a recent trip. An openly gay pastor in the city where Whole Foods was founded has filed a lawsuit against the chain, claiming it sold him a cake that read “Love Wins F-g.”

But commenters on social media wondered why the pastor didn’t immediately notice the slur and accused him of altering the cake, as did Whole Foods, which countersued, claiming that the pastor made “fraudulent” accusations.

In a video posted last week, Jordan Brown of Austin’s Church of Open Doors said he ordered a cake from Whole Foods meant to read “Love Wins” — a slogan associated with the movement to legalize same-sex marriage. But when he picked up the cake on April 14, it had a quite different message.

“When I got into my vehicle, I looked inside and saw they had wrote ‘Love Wins F-g’ on it,” Brown said, holding a receipt he said was from the cake. “You can see it nice and clear. Also, it is still in a sealed box. As you see, I have not opened up this box yet.”


Pastor Jordan Brown’s cake. (Court documents)

Brown said he contacted Whole Foods to complain, and that an employee was at first “extremely apologetic.” However, the employee later called to say “his employee did not do this.” Brown was confused — and angry.

“My question is: Who could have done this?” Brown said. “It’s still inside of a sealed box.” He added: “This is discrimination.”

Austin’s Kaplan Law Firm, which recently represented a gay couple seeking a marriage license in Hood County, evidently agrees there is cause for action. The firm filed a suit on Brown’s behalf — one not alleging discrimination, but intentional infliction of emotional distress. After Whole Foods denied writing the slur on the cake, the suit said, even the offer of a gift card and a replacement cake was off the table.

Pastor Jordan spent the remainder of the day in tears,” the suit read. “He was and is extremely upset.” It added: “The potential for racial, sexual, religious, and anti-LGBT slurs to be written on personalized cakes is high, and Whole Foods knew or should have known that slurs or harassing messages could be written on cakes and then presented to a customer without any oversight or prior warning.”

At a press conference, as KXAN reported, Brown said: “Saying f– is the same as calling me a n—r.”

“Pastor Brown never asked for this to happen,” Brown’s lawyer, Austin Kaplan, said in a statement on Monday. “He continues to be overwhelmed by the feelings of pain, anguish, and humiliation because of this incident. … He frequently shopped at Whole Foods, which makes this all the more shocking and disappointing. What really concerns him is knowing that unless some action is taken, this kind of thing could happen again, and that someone else might have to go through a similarly excruciating experience.”

Whole Foods, founded in Austin in 1980, first denied writing the message.

“The team member wrote ‘Love Wins’ at the top of the cake as requested by the guest and that’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store,” the company said in a statement. “Our team members do not accept or design bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive. Whole Foods Market has a zero tolerance policy for discrimination. We stand behind our bakery team member, who is part of the LGBTQ community, and the additional team members from the store, who confirmed the cake was decorated with only the message ‘Love Wins.’”

Then it announced Tuesday that it is countersuing Jordan and his counsel, as the Statesman noted. The suit claimed Brown “intentionally, knowingly and falsely accused Whole Foods and its employees of writing the homophobic slur … on a custom made cake that he ordered from WFM’s Lamar Store in Austin.”

“After a deeper investigation of Mr. Brown’s claim, we believe his accusations are fraudulent and we intend to take legal action against both Mr. Brown and his attorney,” the company wrote in a statement that laid out its case as follows:

  • Our bakery team member wrote “Love Wins” at the top of the cake, which was visible to Mr. Brown through the clear portion of the packaging. That’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Whole Foods Market has a strict policy that prohibits team members from accepting or designing bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.
  • Mr. Brown admits that he was in sole possession and control of the cake until he posted his video, which showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box.
  • After reviewing our security footage of Mr. Brown, it’s clear that the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package. This is evident as the cashier scans the UPC code on top of the box.

Whole Foods posted the security footage online. A man that looks like Brown can be seen paying at the register at the bottom right.

[embedded content]

According to Inside Edition, Brown “grew up in a family of church leaders and began preaching at 14 years old,” founding the Church of Open Doors two years ago. He is a member of the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce a, group that represents Austin’s LGBT-friendly businesses, according to Inside Edition.

Meanwhile, the Internet wondered why Brown did not see the message when he first picked up the cake.

“Sorry, I can’t believe you bought a cake with a custom message and did not see it through the window,” one YouTube commenter wrote. “Feels like a scam. I’m straight and they call me a f-g all the time. No big deal. Who did it? I think you did it.”

On the Church of Open Doors’ Facebook page, a purported cake decorator even attempted to deconstruct the design.

“That cake was obviously altered,” the commenter wrote. “As a cake decorator I spotted the covered up ‘purple’ icing immediately, on the original lettering that said ‘LOVE WINS’ The piping on the ADDED ON word ‘F—G’ wasn’t even the same TIP size as the original lettering … He obviously thought media coverage would be in his favor! Probably thought he would get rich and famous!”

A biography on the website of Church Of Open Doors said that Brown, who recently got engaged, moved to Austin in 2013 “with a vision to create a place where all can experience God.”

“At this time ‘Church Of Open Doors’ was born!” it said. “With a love for people, Pastor Jordan inspires to make an impact in the lives of those who have been outcast, abandoned, and confused about what church really stands for.” A description of the congregation read: “We’re a non-denominational, non-traditional, Christ-centered, welcoming, LGBT-friendly, worshiping church!”


A Whole Foods paper bag in Andover, Mass., in 2013. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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Editor’s note: This video contains graphic content. Chicago police released October 2014 video of police shooting Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. (Chicago Police Department)
CHICAGO — Hundreds of protesters flooded streets overnight after a white police officer who fatally shot a black teenager last year was charged with first-degree murder on Tuesday and a graphic video of the killing was released.
While the demonstrations, which at times blocked some of Chicago’s busy Interstate highways, were largely peaceful, some turned confrontational during the night.
Skirmishes broke out between protesters and police, who surrounded officers after they apparently made arrests. Protesters also tried to stop a police SUV from leaving with arrestees — an effort that failed. As the sound of sirens filled the air, police were met with shouts of “16 shots” — the number of times the officer charged with murder fired at Laquan McDonald, 17, in October 2014 — and “No Black Friday!” Some protesters showed up in gas masks, and some pushed against a police line, but no smoke or tear gas came.
A protest in Chicago. (REUTERS/Andrew Nelles)
In dramatic standoffs, some protesters stared down police as cameras snapped.
“When we say ‘F—k the police,’ that’s not just because … we think that s—t is something cool,” one protester said. “That is a response!”

Around 1 a.m. for about 15 minutes, hundreds of protesters moving west blocked one of downtown Chicago’s main traffic arteries, Interstate 290. While most stopped at an I-290 on-ramp, others broke through a police line to block cars entering and exiting the interstate.
“You are obstructing the roadway,” an officer said into a megaphone. “If you continue to be up here you will be subject to arrest.”

Police ordered protesters to disperse, evidently arresting some. Eventually, marchers retraced their route back to State Street and traveled north. What had been a march turned into individual standoffs as temperatures fell. Dog owners walked their animals alongside protesters; a man on a treadmill on the second floor of a building looked down on the rally.
Asked early Wednesday for information about arrests, a police department spokesman said no information would be …Read More

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Editor’s note: This video contains graphic content. Chicago police released October 2014 video of police shooting Laquan McDonald, a black 17-year-old. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder. (Chicago Police Department)
CHICAGO — Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a police officer here with first-degree murder for fatally shooting a black teenager last year in an incident captured on a graphic video that the Chicago Police Department released later in the day.
City officials said they were preparing for heated protests to follow the release of the video, which depicts Jason Van Dyke, a white 14-year veteran of the police force, drawing his weapon on Laquan McDonald, an African American teen carrying a knife who appears to be crossing a major thoroughfare.
As McDonald veers away from the officers, Van Dyke begins firing, felling McDonald immediately, and then shoots repeatedly into his prone body. A total of 16 shots were fired, all the ammunition in the officer’s clip.
“The officer in this case took a young man’s life and he’s going to have to account for his actions, and that’s what today is all about,” Garry F. McCarthy, the Chicago police superintendent. McCarthy called on city residents to demonstrate peacefully.
“People have a right to be angry,” he said. “People have a right to protest, people have a right to free speech. But they do not have a right to commit criminal acts.”
[The Washington Post’s database of people fatally shot by police officers this year]
The video’s release arrives at a time of heightened racial tension nationally, and amid intensified scrutiny of police forces following a series of fatal encounters between law enforcement and black men and boys. It is rare for a police officer to be charged in a fatal shooting, and the first-degree murder count is the most severe Van Dyke could have faced.
Earlier in the day, police in Minneapolis said they had taken three men into custody after gunshots were fired at protesters at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in that city, wounding five demonstrators them in an attack that inflamed tensions already high over a recent police killing of an unarmed black man.
The unrest, propelled into the public eye after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. last year, has …Read More

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EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More

EDITOR’S CHOICE — SCOTT SUTTELL

Blog Entry: April 14, 2015 11:10 AM    |    Author: SCOTT SUTTELL
One more reason to be in favor of marijuana legalization: It fosters innovation in the lighting industry, including at a Cleveland company called iGROW.“Each time a new state legalizes marijuana, entrepreneurs jump in to fill niches that can play a part in cannabis growth or sales there,” according to Forbes.com. “With new greenhouses and growing spaces come purchases of new grow-lights, an essential tool for a robust cannabis crop, and startup lighting companies are responding to the need with innovative products.”New companies developing alternative technologies “are gunning for lower heat output, lower cost and best light spectrum emission,” according to the story, which is written by Julie Weed. (As her bio notes, that is her real last name.)Ari Seaman, an owner of iGROW, an agricultural lighting manufacturer company that began operations in 2009, tells Forbes.com, “The right light can make a cannabis crop mature ten days faster, and that means more money for growers who can get that investment sold faster.”Forbes.com notes that iGROW agricultural light “delivers the full spectrum of colors of the sun, fine-tuned to the needs of cannabis plants.”iGROW posted sales of $500,000 in 2012. This year, the company says, it expects to sell $20 million worth of lights. iGROW’s customer base has also changed over the last three years.“Eighty percent of our first-year sales were to non-marijuana growers,” Seaman tells Forbes.com.Now more than half of all sales go to marijuana growers.
Bend, don’t break
U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Youngstown is helping make politicians in Washington a little more flexible.Literally.The New York Times’ First Draft blog reports that Rep. Candice S. Miller of Michigan, the Republican chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration, has granted approval of the first Congressional Yogi Association.On May 1, members of Congress and their staffs will be able to work on their poses on the West Lawn of the Capitol.“The extremely high levels of stress Americans deal with on a daily basis is an important issue facing our country,” says Ryan, who is hosting the event and, The Times notes, already runs a weekly meditation session for his staff.According to its mission statement, the …Read More