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Co-founder of ‘non-violent’ eateries quits after blasting Utah smoker with extinguisher

A Utah restaurateur who blasted a smoker Friday with a fire extinguisher says on Facebook that he’s no longer involved in the two eateries he helped found.

“My behavior was unnecessary and no way to treat another person regardless of circumstance.” Alex Jamison wrote Monday on the Facebook page of Monkeywrench, one of his former restaurants in Salt Lake City.

“My business partner and I started this company to promote the message of non-violence towards all beings and I recognize my actions last weekend starkly contradicted that,” he continued, saying he’s no longer a shareholder in Monkeywrench or Bolt Cutter.

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Jamison sprayed smoker Jon Bird in the face with a fire extinguisher on Friday after asking him not to smoke near the outdoor seating area at one of his restaurants, McClatchy news group previously reported.

Bird’s girlfriend caught the confrontation on video, which has since gone viral. Salt Lake City police are investigating the incident.

The video, posted to Facebook, shows Jamison holding a small fire extinguisher at his side as he argued with Bird and another man.

The men say they’re not within 25 feet of a business entrance, as required by Utah law, but Jamison points out they’re standing next to a patio dining area, the video shows.

“Are you really going to spray them with a fire extinguisher?” the woman shooting the video asks.

“I’m going to put that cigarette out,” Jamison says in the video. “You can’t smoke right here.”

Bird takes a drag on his cigarette. He flinches as Jamison raises the extinguisher, then faces him with the cigarette in his mouth.

“Do it,” Bird says in the video. Jamison raises the extinguisher again and sprays Bird in the face with a short burst, the video shows.

“Call the cops,” someone says. “Call the cops,” replies Jamison, before the video ends.

Bird said he was volunteering at an arts festival nearby and said a security guard gave him permission to smoke near the restaurant, KUTV reported.

“Who in their right mind puts a fire extinguisher a foot and half away from someone’s face and just lets go?” Bird said, KSL reported. He said he has shortness of breath and headaches from the chemicals in the extinguisher spray.

On Monday, Jamison urged people to continue supporting the vegan restaurants in “making and serving amazing food, spreading compassion, giving a voice to animals who desperately need it, and fighting for this planet we all share and have an obligation to save.”

“The businesses and staff do not deserve the toxic hate, negativity, and threats — they’ve done nothing wrong and should not be punished for my choice,” Jamison wrote.

“I’m deeply sorry for any harm I brought to the other individual involved, our staff and the vegan movement,” he wrote.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.
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