The president of the Richmond Food Truck Association has resigned after participating in Wednesday’s rally in Washington, D.C., that led to a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump storming the U.S. Capitol and the deaths of five people.
“The now-former president of the Richmond Food Truck Association made the decision to participate in the rally in Washington, DC, that led to abhorrent violence against our Capitol and American democracy,” the association wrote in a Facebook post Thursday night. “Collectively, the remaining members of the RFTA have demanded and received the resignation of Billy Metzger as the president of the RFTA.”
Metzger is the owner and operator of the Curbside Creations food truck and until Thursday was the head of the 7-year-old association of nearly 50 Richmond-based mobile food vendors. It was his second year as president.
“What a day ... I made [it] to the front doors of the capital [sic] took a few flash bangs but missed the pepper spray and rubber bullets,” Metzer wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post that included images of the crowd and the Capitol.
In an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Friday, Metzger acknowledged that he attended the rally, but said that he never reached the Capitol building, entered it, or even breached any fencing erected around the place where inside lawmakers began the process of counting the Electoral College votes confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
“I was there at the rally. And that’s it. I never crossed a fence. I was never anywhere the public wasn’t supposed to be,” Metzger said.
He said his Facebook post characterizing his location as at “the front doors” of the Capitol was “a horrible choice of words” and “a horrible post.” “[I was there] just to support my freedoms. I think everyone has the right.”
“I attended a peaceful rally. I didn’t know it wasn’t going to be a peaceful rally,” Metzger said.
He said that leading up to storming of the building — during which a police officer was fatally assaulted, one woman was shot to death, and three other people died from unspecified “medical emergencies” related to the rampage — the rally had a “festival atmosphere.”
But what happened once the building was stormed, Metzger said, “was an embarrassment for the American people. It’s a tragedy. That can’t happen. There has to be law and order. I’m a big supporter of police.”
Metzger arrived at the nation’s capital via charter bus from the Richmond area with about 40 other people. He declined to share other attendees’ names or his departing location, but said the bus parked near a Metro stop he can’t recall and that the group departed the Capitol once they got texted alerts about the curfew, fearing the Metro would be overcrowded and that they’d miss their chartered bus home.
He said he has “GPS footage” showing his location throughout the day and that he shared this footage with Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Thursday, asking them “to intervene” if the FBI or any other law enforcement agency was looking for him as a result of the deleted post. He said police took a report and assured him he wouldn’t be in any trouble.
The Hanover Sheriff’s Office said it responded to a call from Metzger for reported threats made against him, not his rally attendance.
“I don’t see any record of us telling him he would not be in any trouble,” said sheriff’s spokesman Lt. James Cooper. “We responded to his residence and a report was taken due to him receiving threats from unknown parties. He indicates that someone posted his home address on social media and he has been receiving numerous threatening phone calls from individuals upset with him attending the ‘rally’ in D.C..”
In the past 24 hours, Metzger’s deleted post has been shared on multiple social media platforms, and Metzger said he’s received death threats, that members of his extended family have been threatened, that his home address and pictures of his home have been shared on social media, and that his 20-year-old business has been flooded with negative reviews and comments. He said he called the remote Food Truck association meeting Thursday night and voluntarily resigned his position because he “did something wrong.”
“Everyone has a freedom to express something, but to try to ruin someone’s business is horrible. The death threats, the fake reviews — that’s horrible. Business is business,” Metzger said. “I’ve been in business for 20 years. I’m probably one of the longest-standing food trucks in Richmond. We did hundreds of neighborhoods. I’m a good person. It’s horrible to try to ruin someone’s business. That’s all I ask is if you don’t want to support me, that’s fine. But don’t try to block me from making a living.”
The Richmond Food Truck Association did not respond to a request for comment.