NORTH KINGSTOWN – After Allie’s Donuts announced that it would no longer be offering a 10 percent police or military discount, a group of veterans gathered outside the doughnut shop on Sunday to protest.
The group of protesters, called “Never Forget,” were made up of veterans from around Rhode Island, as well as neighboring states.
“It’s not about the discount,” John Cianci, a retired U.S. Army veteran and an organizer of the protest, said in a statement. “It’s about the content of Allie’s Donuts message and the singling out of local police and military.”
Allie’s Donuts announcement, which was made on June 6, came in the wake of nationwide protests that were kicked off by the killing of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis police officer.
The business, which is located in North Kingstown, said it was “fed up,” and called on local police to “take action to solve problems with racism and injustice.”
“[Allie’s Donuts] will choose to stand with the people of our great state. We will no longer offer military or police discounts,” the business wrote in a statement on Instagram. “Thank you for your service, and shame on you for your silence.”
Though the announcement caused backlash on social media last week, with many users calling for a boycott of the doughnut shop, others showed support for Allie’s Donuts and its message, lining up to purchase doughnuts, with Black Lives Matter signs in hand.
However, on Sunday, it was the Never Forget group stationed outside Allie’s Donuts, protesting against the announcement that the shop would no longer be offering a police or military discount.
According to the group’s Facebook page, Never Forget was created to ensure that Americans always remember “the actions taken by Allie’s Donuts,” which were “disrespectful to the men and women who continue to serve, and have served.”
"Allie’s Donuts can keep their discount,” Cianci, a disabled combat veteran of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, said. “[T]housands of veterans, families, supporters, will ‘Never Forget" the actions of Allie’s Donuts.”
“Simply put, we will boycott this business establishment under the current ownership,” he continued.
Following Allie’s Donuts announcement, and subsequent backlash, owner Matt Drescher issued an apology to anyone who was offended by the decision to end the discounts, though he said he stood by the original statement.
Drescher said that the original message “didn’t really convey my intention,” adding that he wanted to “take away a privilege from people so that we could all be equal.”
Drescher said that he was sorry for the approach that was taken, but not for the message itself.
And in a further statement by the doughnut shop, Allie’s Donuts said that, “reflecting on our method of delivery, we imagine most of you were surprised by our candor.”
“In no way did we mean to insult people and their service to our country or community,” the business said. “If you felt offended or insulted, please accept our apology.”
In regard to the military’s inclusion in the announcement to no longer offer discounts, Drescher said that he knew several service members and respected the work they did.
“I don’t hate the military [ …] I know people in the military,” he said. “We have former employees who we loved and when they got to a certain age, they became members of the military.”