YouTuber’s viral video generates controversy at the Metropolis Cafe


Anjali Shennoy

Metropolis Cafe in Downtown Milledgeville

Katherine Futch, Editor In Chief

YouTuber and First Amendment auditor Jeff Gray stirred recent controversy at Metropolis Cafe in downtown Milledgeville. In mid-February, Gray posted a video on his channel, “HonorYourOaths Civil Rights Investigations,” where he posed outside the restaurant with a sign reading, “God bless the homeless veterans.”

The video shows Gray addressing people as they exit the restaurant, or as they pass him on the street. Most who passed by acknowledged him with a nod after he would exclaim, “God bless the homeless veterans.” 

An officer from the Milledgeville Police Department confronted Gray in the video, questioning him about his identity and intentions. Gray insisted that since he was not being detained, he was not constitutionally obligated to release that information. 

Gray repeatedly stated it was his cConstitutionally protected right to stand outside Metropolis Cafe under the privilege of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly on a traditional public forum. 

I was criminally trespassed from an entire city block, including the public sidewalk.

Metropolis’s landlord, David Bernard Simmons, quickly arrived on the scene and informed Gray that he could not pose outside the restaurant. It resulted in Gray being criminally trespassed from the entire block of North Wayne Street.N Wayne St. Most of the buildings on this street are owned by Simmons. 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” Gray wrote in the video’s caption. 

The video, which has almost 135,000 views, put Metropolis under public scrutiny. GC student and Metropolis waiter, Joseph Pabian, said the restaurant received numerous threatening messages and phone calls. 

“It was scary,” Pabian said. “We had so many phone calls threatening our employees’ safety, not to mention people accusing us of hating veterans and the homeless. I just think they did not realize that it was not our decision to remove Jeff from the property.” 

Metropolis staff released a statement on social media following the controversy and threatening phone calls. 

“The owners, management and employees of Metropolis Cafe were in no way involved in the trespassing of Mr. Jeff Gray. Metropolis Cafe rents space from the building owner, Mr. Simmons, who chose to trespass Mr. Gray from all of his properties along North Wayne Street. As the property owner, this decision was his and only his to make and was not encouraged or endorsed by Metropolis Cafe.

Metropolis Cafe continues to support veterans in our community by welcoming them into our restaurant as guests and employing them as members of our team. We appreciate Mr. Gray’s dedication to the rights of free speech and public expression and would like to extend an invitation to him to join us for a meal anytime. Veterans are always welcome at Metropolis.” 

Following Metropolis’s online statement, Gray commented on his Youtube video, asking people to not harass employees or the business. 

Please DO NOT call the Metropolis Restaurant as they were not the ones pushing the trespass. The person pushing the trespass was the property owner David Bernard Simmons…not the restaurant,” Gray wrote. 

While Pabian says that the backlash has mostly ceased, Metropolis still is occasionally harassed. 

“We will sometimes get a random call from someone harassing or threatening us, but it has mostly calmed down,” Pabian said.