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UPDATED: This reported was updated after the Herald was able to get comments directly from Bruce Babcock, one of the owners of the food truck business involved in the story.
Chef in A Box owner says Facebook page was hacked, denies posting racist comments
From Staff Reports
The owner of a local food business is claiming her Facebook account has been hacked after screenshots of racist posts appearing to be from her account began circulating on social media early Saturday.
Jennifer Tomlin Babcock and her husband Bruce Babcock are the owners of Chef in A Box food truck which operates in Leakesville several times a week and also in surrounding communities like Richton and Lucedale. Babcock and her food service company became embroiled in turmoil Saturday after a post from Babcock’s personal Facebook page containing racist language, including the N-word, began to circulate. The post started out taking issue with the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement and efforts across the country to remove some statues and monuments viewed by many as racists due to their connection to the Confederacy. The post moved on to call for changing the names of streets and public places named in honor of the late civil right activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. The N-word was used twice in the post.
The post was taken down and a statement released on the Chef in A Box Facebook business page.
“Let’s get this cleared up,” the post on the Chef in A Box page stated. “My Facebook pages have been hacked. I it (sic) reported. “It is sad when one person can cause so much hate.”
“I am very sorry for this. The pictured of the screen shot that is going around is false!”
Some supporters came to Babcock’s defense on social media, but most of the comments found on Facebook concerning the situation have come from people who didn’t buy Babcock’s explanation for the post. Several people shared screenshots of other posts purportedly from Babcock as they challenged the apology and explanation.
Babcock’s personal Facebook page and the Chef in A Box page had been deactivated shortly after noon Saturday. When reached by telephone later in the day, Bruce Babcock said once again his wife’s Facebook page and that of their business had been hacked.
“We were out of town until early this morning and knew nothing about this until a friend messaged me and said I should check out Facebook,” Bruce Babcock said. “We have reported this situation to Facebook and shut down both of the pages.”
“Me, nor Jennifer made these comments and have not posted this type of language in the past. We are trying to find out how this happened, because we want to set this straight.”
Babcock went on to say that a very high percentage of their customer base in Leakesville is African American and that putting racial slurs like the ones in the post would have been “stupid.”
“We have had tremendous support for our business and we appreciate all of our customers,” he added. “I just would not make any sense for us to make a post using offensive words like the ones used in that post.”
Chef in A Box has a 6-month transient business permit from the Town of Leakesville to do business in the community and the food truck has been operating while parked on public property at Green Park across from the Greene County Courthouse. The controversy that erupted over the social media posts has led to some to call for town officials to take action to force the food truck off the public square.
When contacted for comment Saturday, Leakesville Mayor George Perkins said he and other town officials had received numerous complaints about the situation and were looking into the matter.
“Mrs. Babcock is apparently denying responsibility for the offensive post and town officials have not yet spoken to her about it, but I want to be clear that we don’t condone this type of behavior or this type of speech at all,” Perkins said. “It is a sad day for this type of thing to even be an issue. It is a shame we have not moved past this type of thinking in our society.”
“We are a community of different people with different skin tones and different views and we need to be coming together, not being torn further apart.
This is a developing story and will be updated as additional information becomes available.