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Employee, Restaurant Get Heat Over Controversial Costume

Posted at: 11/29/2012 10:36 PM
Updated at: 11/30/2012 10:36 AM
By: Dayna Landgrebe & Travis Dill

A man and his employer are getting heat in Duluth over what some call a racist Halloween costume.

Adam Stoningpot is an employee of Duluth's Pizza Luce restaurant and was seen wearing blackface makeup at a Pizza Luce Halloween party on October 31. Stoningpot was off-duty at the time of the party, but another patron, Ben Butter, said he noticed Stoningpot and said other customers noticed the unusual costume as well.

"The bar became almost silent when he walked in. He seemed oblivious to the shock and disapproval that was on almost every face," Butter said.

Butter described Stoningpot's costume as one that reflected a minstrel of the 19th century, "Sporting a curly black wig, rounded glasses, flannel shirt, scarf and, of course, the face paint," Butter said.

Blackface is a type of make-up that's been used to represent the skin tone of an African American person.

On Thursday, Stoningpot told the Duluth News Tribune he was trying to open a discussion about race that night because people don't talk about it.

Pizza Luce General Manager Paige Doty said the restaurant has since been facing questions about the incident since the photograph surfaced. That includes criticism from customers like Butter.

"It should be clear to anyone that blackface is in no way acceptable," Butter said.

Doty said Thursday that ownership and management have spoken to community leaders about future race education. Pizza Luce CEO and Owner JJ Haywood, who Doty noted is an African American woman, also came to Duluth on Thursday for those meetings.

"This is shocking and sad and something we absolutely don't condone, and we're working to resolve it at this point," Doty said.

Doty also said she couldn't confirm or deny whether Stoningpot still remained an employee of Pizza Luce as of Thursday afternoon.

"That's what we're in the midst of. We're dealing with the employee, and...that's confidential. We're working on it, and nothing is final at this point," she said.

Eyewitness News was not able to reach Stoningpot for comment.