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Kind-hearted Brooklynites have raised thousands of dollars for a beloved Bay Ridge comic store that fell behind on several months of rent because of the state-mandated shutdowns of non-essential businesses during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

“I was very surprised when I first saw and was so touched by all the support we have been getting,” said Abdulilah Esa, owner of Galaxy Comics in Bay Ridge. “I would like to thank the community for all the support and all the good comments we have been receiving.” 

Hoi Chen, a longtime customer of the comic shop, created the online fundraiser on June 11 and set an ambitious $29,000 goal — and has since received over $8,500 in donations in less than three weeks.

“The store is a mom and pop comic book shop in Bay Ridge Brooklyn and the only true surviving one,” wrote Chen. [Galaxy Comics] would be grateful for all the help it can get. Any amount is greatly appreciated.”

The comic store owner owes nearly $28,000 in back rent on the Fifth Avenue storefront between 68th Street and Bay Ridge Avenue — and, while he’s received government money to cover the cost of his employee’s salaries, Esa hasn’t seen enough help to pay his mounting operating costs.  

“We initially did get the [Paycheck Protection Program loan],” Esa said. “But it wasn’t much because I only have two employees.” 

Instead, his community has stepped up and gone to great lengths to ensure that their beloved comic book shop makes it through the pandemic. 

“We had customers that wanted to help, so they said they would come in and spend money in the store,” Esa said. “They were not looking for something specific, only with the intention to spend money.”

The Sunset Park native first reopened his shop on June 7 — after the city entered into Phase One of its reopening — and said he has noticed a change in shopping behavior as the pandemic has discouraged many from browsing without a specific purchase in mind.

“You could say 90 percent of the people that walked in so far end up buying things,” Esa said. “Unlike before, we had a lot of walk-ins and browsing, and then maybe someone buys something.”

Now, in Phase 2 of the city’s reopening, patrons can shop inside non-essential storefronts — which Esa hopes will bring a much-needed influx of both visitors and cash to his cherished business.

In the meantime, the community is continuing to rally behind Esa and Galaxy Comics. As of Monday afternoon, Chen’s GoFundMe was shared more than 1,300 times.

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Waitress Hailed As Hero During Tech Execs Racist Rant; Online Fundraisers Net Thousands In Donations

CARMEL VALLEY (CBS SF) — A woman working as a waitress at a Carmel Valley restaurant where a man berated a Filipino family with racist and vulgar insults is being hailed as a hero for her actions and several online fundraisers have generated thousands of dollars in donations to her.

The incident, captured on a video that has gone viral, shows San Francisco tech executive Michael Lofthouse swearing and delivering racist insults to a family that had been celebrating a birthday at the Lucia Restaurant at Bernadus Lodge & Spa.

ORIGINAL STORY:  Tech CEO Michael Lofthouse Berates Asian Family With Racist Insults

Immediately, the server – identified as Jennica Cochran – jumps to the family’s defense, yelling at Lofthouse to get out and not to speak to the family like that.

“No, you do not talk to our guests like that! Get out of here!” Cochran is heard shouting at Lofthouse on the video.

A waitress is seen in a video confronting a man who was hurling racist and vulgar insults to a family seated nearby. (Jordan Chan/Instragram)

Soon after a GoFundMe page titled “A Big Tip for an Everyday Hero” was set up with goal of $1,000. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fundraiser has generated more than $20,000 from over 800 donors. The organizer said he contacted Cochran so she could agree to giving her email in order to be designated as the beneficiary.

“As much as it’s satisfying to drag the man who who did this to that family, it’s even more satisfying when we lift up the people who stand up to defend those who are on the receiving end of such racism. In this case, that person is this server/yoga instructor Gennica Cochran,” said the notes accompanying the fundraiser. “She spoke out with a passionate fury against this man, possibly putting her job on the line amidst an economic crisis in order to fight back against just a taste of the racism that is running rampant in our country.”

Two other GoFundMe fundraisers for Cochran have generated more than $8,000 but do not have Cochran listed as the beneficiary.

“The audacity of a white British guy to tell anyone in the US that they don’t belong in this country,” said donor Nicolette Young. “Girl, the way you leapt to that family’s defense was amazing! You deserve the fattest tip ever.”

“Thank you so much, Gennica, for standing up to racism with such fierce strength and courage, and protecting an Asian family,” said donor

Erik Kuhonta. “It is people like you that can help improve the world with such everyday acts of heroism.” “You did not just defend an Asian family from a racist. You defended the entire Asian community, who has been subject to racism like I have never experienced before. Thank you,” said donor Brent Takahashi. Lofthouse, CEO of San Francisco cloud computing firm Solid8, has since apologized for his outburst in a statement.

“This was clearly a moment where I lost control and made incredibly hurtful and divisive comments,” the statement said. “I was taught to respect people of all races, and I will take the time to reflect on my actions and work to better understand the inequality that so many of those around me face every day.”

Sean Damery, vice president of Bernardus Lodge & Spa, which includes the restaurant, apologized to the family and said he was proud of the staff. He said the man was escorted off the property without further incident.


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