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John Valko ReefpointUPDATE: John Valko issued an apology to the community Thursday night.

He wrote:

Today, I offer up my sincerest apology to every person, near and far, my wife, my family, my friends, Tom Landreman, Patti Landreman, Meagan Bennett and all the employees of the restaurant that have been hurt by words I used. You all have every right to condemn the words I used. Those words should be condemned. I apologize to every person of every race, religion, creed, etc. that I have insulted,
upset, ticked off or hurt because of the words I choose to use in this Facebook Post.

Original story: Here’s a link to the whole letter he wrote:

One of the owners of the Reefpoint Brew House has agreed to step down after he made comments that the NFL players who kneeled in protest during the National anthem should be killed.

John Valko co-owns the Reefpoint Brew House with Meagan Bennett, and Tom and Patti Landreman, but the other three owners are distancing themselves from Valko.

After over 200 NFL players kneeled during the National Anthem Sunday to protest comments made by President Donald J. Trump, Valko called for those NFL players to be killed and executed in a Facebook post.

“John is no longer part of the business,” Tom told Racine County Eye. “He’s agreed to step aside and he understands that he’s become a pariah. But I want to make it clear that we don’t agree with anything he said.”

Valko took down the comment and later apologized. He said his comment was “about having respect” for the country, the flag and those who served in the military, not racism or politics. Still, Valko’s comments have gone viral and a number of people have left threatening messages at the restaurant on their voicemail, Facebook page, and email.

“It’s sad that these people are choosing to make us the lightning rod of national anthem issue,” Tom said. “It’s certainly not what we agree to or with. John had to be out of his mind when he made this statement. He had to have mental health issues and for people to react in kind to this is just as bad.

“Imagine how the employees feel about receiving these threats. We don’t know which ones to take seriously or not. But our next step is to turn to the police.”

A number of people equated Valko’s comments with being a racist, but Valko said his comments weren’t about race.

“They can protest all they want, that’s their right. But, do it in a way that is not disrespectful to our country, our flag, or our servicemen and women who have given everything for this country. I am not proud of my choice of words I apologize to anyone offended by them. I have a great love for our country and especially our Flag and I let these players disrespect get the best of me because of that love. So, I apologize for that. You can all take it however you want. It had nothing to do with race or with being a Democrat or Republican.”

Moreover, the controversy around this issue doesn’t seem to be going away. Shaun King, a writer and civil rights activist, picked up on the story. He posted on Facebook that he was furious after he heard about Valko’s comments.


“Just wait until tomorrow ok? I’ve got something for them. Talk tough like this and see what happens. That’s my word,” he wrote.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.