Kensington Market cafe owner defends hanging accused stalker's artwork
Gregory Alan Elliot's slogans have been hanging on the walls of I Deal Coffee for about two months.
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A Kensington Market coffee shop is at the centre of an online uproar after displaying artwork made by the man accused in the city’s infamous Twitter harassment trial.
Gregory Alan Elliott, 54, has been charged with two counts of criminal harassment for allegedly stalking two Toronto women via Twitter. A judgment is expected in early 2016.
It’s believed to be the first case of criminal stalking via Twitter, and it’s tapped into heated discourse about modern feminism, harassment and the men’s rights movement.
The co-owner of I Deal Coffee, Julie, said she started displaying Elliott’s art in the Kensington location about two months ago, but on Sunday, someone noticed and posted about it on Facebook. The next day, a woman came into the store and threw coffee all over the art, splashing a customer, she said.
There are hundreds of messages to the I Deal Coffee about Elliott's art on Twitter and Facebook, many of the message are angry about the art being displayed, but many others are supportive.
Julie asked that her last name not be published, as she’s concerned about some of the comments being made online.
“The way this has been going, I feel that I might be next in line, under attack,” she said.
She said she believes I Deal Coffee is now experiencing the same online harassment that Elliott has been accused of.
Julie said she knows Elliott as a local artist and a customer, and likes his art.
“He’s been nothing but helpful in our shops and he’s been a loyal customer. We didn’t feel we were aligning ourselves with his case, so much as we were aligning ourselves with the artist,” she said.
Julie said it’s “unfortunate” if people believe she and I Deal Coffee have taken a side in the court case.
“I would hope that the supposed victims don’t necessarily feel that we are attacking them by displaying art, because that’s the furthest from our intention,” she said.
I Deal Coffee has since started an online fundraiser to help pay for a public relations service.
Greg Kourtoff, a communications expert, sat in on Metro’s interview and said I Deal Coffee has become the target of “a witch hunt.”
“I Deal Coffee has been known to hire women and minorities, and this online campaign, if you want to call it such, by these individuals, doesn’t reflect, in any way, what I Deal stands for,” he said.