ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A Rockford bar is receiving blowback after an insensitive photograph taken at the establishment was posted on Facebook.
The photo, currently being shared on Facebook, shows Howie Heaton, an owner of Mulligan’s Pub in Rockford, under a chalkboard that reads, “If you have an O/P (order of protection) against your ex- He’s welcome, your not. -HH”.
The picture was not posted to the Mulligan’s Facebook page, as suggested by some social media users, a bar staffer told Eyewitness News Tuesday.
“It was a post made by someone who tagged us,” the staff member said via Instant Messenger.
The tag has since been removed but not before numerous users started sharing it, accusing the bar and Heaton of supporting domestic violence.
“We have no tolerance for anyone or any business that promotes, condones, or makes light of domestic violence,” Women’s March Rockford posted to Facebook in response to the image. “There is no valid argument as to why this is acceptable in any kind of way.
Mulligan’s issued a response, saying the bar, “in no way advocates domestic violence or minimize(s) O/P’s significance.”
“This was only intended for one specific person,” the response says. “This person works at a rival bar and does have an O/P against a regular at our establishment. The woman made a pattern of coming in when he was there, making us aware that she had an O/P and causing trouble with our staff, and watching him get up and leave, never staying very long afterward herself.
“On the day of this photo, we had five cars in our small parking lot, one was his. She came in, he left, and she immediately followed. What we had found out prior was that she voluntary (sic) dismissed her O/P almost a year prior. She did not actually have an O/P despite what she implied.
“The photo only intended to sarcastically address her non-existent O/P and was a result of what we were seeing as someone who has been using this legal tool to antagonize someone who was doing everything he could to stay away from her.”
Mulligan’s says the photo’s circulation has been driven by the rival bar’s staff who they have “friction with.”
“We are hopeful that you keep an open mind on this when drawing your conclusions,” the response continues. “Again, we apologize for the choice of words, and absolutely do not support this statement in any way.”
Mulligan’s is at 2212 N. Main St., Rockford.
If you are a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for resources.