This story was updated Saturday, June 6, to include Rejuv Medical Aesthetic Clinic among the businesses that have pulled their advertising from Lifestyle Publication. If your business has done the same, please contact Ryan Stotts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HORACE, N.D. — At least six area businesses and nonprofits have pulled advertising from Fargo Lifestyle magazine over an alleged racial harassment incident involving its publisher, Tamara Johnson, Saturday, May 30, at Big Erv's Bar & Grill in Horace.
Rejuv Medical Aesthetic Clinic, Willow District, Dash & White, The Green Room, The Black Frame and the Plains Art Museum all issued Facebook statements this week indicating they have severed ties with the magazine after an incident where Johnson, also known as Tammy Jones, allegedly harassed two black men at the Horace eatery and bar.
“It was brought to my attention early yesterday morning that racism is upon us,” owner Kelsey Rasco posted on Dash & White’s Facebook page June 4. “Much closer to home than anticipated which has prompted me to address this issue publicly. There was a point in which I almost let the dust settle and hoped no one would notice but my friends, that is exactly what racism breeds on. And we have asked each other, how we can help? Well this is how. Currently, I have been working tirelessly to break contract with Fargo Lifestyle Publication due to unacceptable behavior. Business reputation or not, I cannot have that hatred in my home. So, I, Kelsey Rasco, mother, step-mom, business owner, janitor and everything in between WILL NOT tolerate such disgrace. For those that don't have a voice, I stand with you.”
Rasco declined to make further comment.
The Black Frame Boutique and Spa owner Kelci Boniface also announced via Facebook she was cutting ties with Fargo Lifestyle.
“This morning we received notice that a local publication we advertise with was involved with actions that do not represent who we are as a member of an amazing community,” Boniface wrote in her post. “We have severed all ties with Fargo Lifestyles effective immediately. It is possible we may be seen in publications already in distribution as we cannot control what has already been published. This type of behavior is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
She ended her post by quoting the late Jimi Hendrix.
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”
Rejuv Medical Aesthetic Clinic not only voiced their concern, but claimed responsibility for getting the magazine shut down.
"While we did advertisements and were contributors in the magazine’s previous issues, we voiced our intolerance of these actions and broke our contract on Wednesday," read a post the evening of June 4. "Since then, we have been notified the July edition and publication moving forward has indefinitely been shut down."
They ended their post with a message of inclusion.
"We need you to know that we do not tolerate this representative’s behavior and are not affiliated with it. Rejuv stands for inclusion and belonging for all-this is extended to our staff, patients, and partners. You belong here."
A Facebook post June 4 from Kelly Visto, owner of Big Erv's, shed some light on what occurred Saturday.
“Saturday, May 30th, there was an unfortunate incident at the Horace Big Erv’s location,” Visto said. “Upon realizing a patron was being unruly, our staff asked the individual who was being disrespectful to leave and decided she was never allowed in our establishments for life. Big Erv’s has personally reached out to the family that was affected and gave our sincere sympathy regarding the incident. We would like to state that this type of behavior is not tolerated at either of our locations as it does not reflect the type of environment we strive to achieve. Again, we strive to maintain a respectful environment for all of our patrons. On behalf of all of us at Big Erv’s, we will continue to ensure that we provide a place where all patrons feel welcomed."
Visto declined further comment.
Chad Desjarlais, father of the young men who were allegedly harassed, shared an account of the events as well.
“So among this madness people start to profile innocent individuals,” Desjarlais posted May 30. “My 22 year old son was a victim of it in Horace,ND today. Getting something to eat he was approached and harassed by a woman claiming to be a police officer's wife. She was demanding who he was, saying she was recording him, and then laid hands on my youngest son.”
In a Facebook post later in the week, Desjarlais identified the woman as Tamara Johnson and shared screenshots of an apology she sent to him. It appears Johnson was under the impression Desjarlais was the victim, not his son.
“So through my networking and the investigation with my oldest son we were able to find the woman who assaulted him,” Desjarlais posted. “People forget my reach is long [and] I have contacts everywhere.”
Desjarlais wrote he had received several messages of apologies, both from Big Erv’s and from Johnson herself, but they did not mollify the situation or the emotional toll the exchange took on the family.
“So as a family we are deciding to put these folks on blast and also will be filing a formal complaint and press charges,” he wrote. “I do not want anyone else to be subjected to this kind of behavior or environment.”
He attached screenshots of the direct messages he’d received from Johnson and Visto.
Fargo Lifestyle, according to its website, is described as “an eclectic fusion of uplifting, community-inspired content that residents and businesses look forward to receiving in their mailboxes each month. Every month has a different theme with content inspired by local people and good news about the community. Readers can expect to find something unexpected, every month.”
Johnson’s email at Fargo Lifestyle Publication has now been disabled. Attempts to make contact with her via her place of business and via Facebook were also unsuccessful.