Coffee shop owner arrested at Board of Supervisors meeting

Viva Coffee House accused of non-compliance, and targeted with threatening messages from the public

Viva Coffee COVID-19 controversy

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - When the Pima County Board of Supervisors passed its mask mandate in May, rather than punish the businesses which failed to obey the rules, the county decided on a “wall of shame.”

The general public was encouraged to report businesses who were out of compliance, the county would investigate and decide whether their names should be published.

So far, about a half dozen have been listed.

One of those was the Viva Coffee House on East Valencia Road in Rita Ranch.

“We have tried to comply with all the COVID mandates,” said Kelly Walker, co-owner of the business. “They keep changing a lot.”

Walker says a woman came in and took photographs which he says misrepresented the restaurant’s policy.

Those photos made it to the county which put him on the list.

“We always, always had a good relationship with the health department,” Walker said. “I really have no idea why they did this but it wasn’t right.”

The County Health Department has not responded as yet. Walker says his mask policy is in compliance with the county mask resolution.

But Walker says he has been blasted on social media with death threats to him, his workers and family because the community doesn’t believe he is in compliance because of the listing.

He attempted to read some of those threats to the board this morning during the call to the audience.

The profanity he used from the social media posts got him arrested, led from the board room and charged with disorderly conduct.

“I didn’t want to do this,” he said. “But they needed to understand, they needed that shock to finally understand what local businesses are going through.”

He wants and apology from the board and a change in policy which doesn’t shame businesses.

The board has voted to reconsider the proposal.

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