East Side Pies in Austin says it is being targeted by pizzagate conspiracy theorists. While police investigate vandalism and threats - the owners are turning the situation into a positive with an anti-bullying special.
As East Side Pies cooks churn out the specialty pizzas the local chain is known for, co-owner Noah Polk steps outside to meet with an APD crime scene tech. There is new graffiti on the building.
This is the second trip out as someone carved a sexual statement on the back of a company delivery van a couple of days ago.
"We've been harassed in all sorts of forms, social media, phone calls,” said Polk.
Polk believes the source of the threats are pizzagate conspiracy theorists.
Pizzagate first began circulating on sites 4chan and Reddit in November. The made-up plot involves claims of a child sex ring operating out of a Washington D.C. pizza parlor.
On Sunday a man showed up to the restaurant called Comet Ping Pong armed with an AR-15 to "self-investigate" the fake news. Police say he fired several shots into the floor--surrendering once he said he found no evidence of children inside.
"For me, the story itself is completely ludicrous and ridiculous not based on reality. However, our reality is the threat is real. The story is fake. The threat is real. So it's a problem,” said Polk.
Polk called a press conference Thursday to not only address the issues he has faced, but offer a unique way to turn the situation into a positive one.
"We're grown-ups here. We're going to deal with the harassment and stuff head on. Lots of kids and teenagers with social media bullying aren't quite as equipped as adults to deal with it,” said Polk.
He is encouraging his customers to show their support for his business by donating a dollar with each order to Creative Action. The non-profit is dedicated to helping youth cope with bullying.
"The bullying is really at a place now that they've never seen it before because of social media. And so the need for students to know how handle that, how to respond, what they can do to make positive change at their school and in their community is so vital,” said Shobie Partos, Creative Action.
Polk says it's important to take a stand against bullies. That's what he is doing with every delicious pie.
"We're going to continue to what we do every day and that's serving great pizza to Austin none of this is going to stop us from what we do,” said Polk.