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Group antagonizes businesses and customers in downtown Santa Barbara

Courtesy of Chase Restaurant & Lounge

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A concerning incident of harassment in downtown Santa Barbara over the weekend has one local business owner speaking out.

The confrontation was captured on a camera mounted at Chase Restaurant and Lounge.

"[W]hat are you talking about.. we are allowed to film. Why are you guys covering your face? Why would we, well why do you want to record mine?"

It happened late Saturday evening when a group of men, armed with cameras, started antagonizing customers and business owners along State Street, including at Chase Restaurant.

Nicole Bitar, who owns the restaurant with her husband, said the men were intimidating, throwing out comments about "public space" and "socialists", and putting cameras in people's faces while heckling her employees and customers, even those with children.

"My staff came up and said, 'Can you please come down and help? We have customers that are leaving because they are being antagonized by some men that were very tall, heavily covered," said co-owner of Chase Restaurant, Nicole Bitar. "I asked them nicely to leave and then he got in my face and started insulting me and saying some really horrible things in front of my customers and staff."

Bitar said the men had no clear message and believes they were from out of town.

Another viewer caught the same group harassing people at Chocolate Maya.

Bitar and witnesses put in several calls to 9-1-1 and people at the scene tell your News Channel that the police response took some time.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
Chase Restaurant & Lounge
Chocolate Maya
Santa Barbara

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about Beth, click here


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