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Pronto Pups owner addresses controversial rant, as protesters, supporters gather outside

Posted at 10:48 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 23:22:06-04

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. — It wasn’t your typical summer line, with signs in hand, protesters took stand next to Pronto Pups in Grand Haven Thursday.

The owner of which, Carl Nelson is under fire after accidentally posting this rant to the business's Facebook page earlier this week.

In it, Nelson said he would rather the health department shut him down than have his employees wear masks.

That he wanted to paint “White Lives Matter" on Grand Haven's Washington Street while deriding the Black Lives Matter movement; and wrote that he’s considering running for president of Michigan’s Militia, among other things.

“He was attacking multiple different races on his business’s page and I felt like on a company page that’s extremely unprofessional,” Protest Organizer Heather Wagenvelt said.

On Thursday, demonstrators held signs with direct quotes from nelson, some called him a racist and others urged for pronto pups to shut down.

“If Carl sold this place and they got a new owner I would love to go in put my money back into this business, but I will not support it as long as Carl owns it,” Wagenvelt added.

Though the protesters faced off with a long line of people who came to support Nelson and his business.

Lines for the corn dogs remained steady through the night.

“They are trying to break down a business for something someone said, not thinking about who works here,” Kathy Boston said.

“I think it got blown out of proportion and I’m a big proponent of the Constitution, free speech, anybody should be able to say anything they want to, that’s okay, but that’s everybody right to say what they want,” she added.

Among the crowd was Carl Nelson himself, spending time talking with demonstrators.

In his first interview since posting the rant, Nelson told FOX 17 he’s not a racist, his post wasn’t meant to be malicious and he stands by what we wrote.

"Would I write them again? Yes. Would I want to post them there? Absolutely not, I didn't want to to start with,” Nelson said.

“I don't think I've ever done or said anything maliciously. When I got done typing because I wasn't in the best of moods, I will say that, when I got done typing it, I read it and I read it again and i read it again. I read it four times before, I decided to hit send," Nelson explained.

“It is who I am, you know in in that respect, if people understand. They might stand here and say I’m racist, absolutely not,” he said.

Nelson says he’s not worried about how this could affect his business in the long run.

“I don't think anyone levelheaded, especially after the sensation goes away, are going to have any major issues with it. Time will tell, if it does, so be it, I’ll deal with it, I’m not a greedy man."

If you want to see our full unedited interview with Carl Nelson where he addresses even more on that rant, click the Facebook video in this article.