A Philadelphia woman was charged with a hate crime after she went viral for making an anti-immigrant racist rant to the owner of a pizza shop.
Rita Bellew, 55, was charged with misdemeanor counts of ethnic intimidation, which is Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute, and harassment Friday after a video posted to TikTok showed her comments, according to the Hatboro Police Department. Officers responded to the restaurant after the reported disturbance around 6 p.m. on Feb. 23 and said they de-escalated the situation.
The video, which was taken down by the original user but has since been posted widely across social media, shows Bellew, who is white, berating Omar Quiñonez, one of the owners of Amy’s Family Pizzeria, for playing a Spanish-language TV show in his restaurant.
In the video, Quiñonez asks Bellew what’s wrong with him playing Spanish-language TV in his own restaurant, and Bellew replies that he’s “not American” and accuses him of being undocumented.
“I will look you the fuck up and get you the fuck out of our town,” Bellew says in the video. “I’m not giving my money to some illegal immigrant.”
Bellew continues by telling the owner, “You’re in America. You’re supposed to learn English.” She then demands a refund, her food, and a credit after insulting him.
“Believe me, I will check it. I’m a CPA, a certified public accountant — you probably don't even know what that means, do you?” Bellew says.
Bellew also confronts the person recording her meltdown after being called a racist. Bellew calls the person recording racist and claims she is being bullied for being white.
“They’re videotaping me because I’m white, see them? They’re calling me racist because I’m white,” Bellew says. “I’m not racist.”
According to a criminal complaint obtained by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Bellew is banned from the restaurant, and upon learning that, she shrugged and told a police officer, “I’m white, I’m white, I’m racist.”
Since the incident, Bellew has told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she was preparing to accept the charges and she was “profoundly sorry” and didn't want to “make excuses.” Bellew told the outlet that she was having a tough week after she was being treated for breast cancer, and her father was in and out of the hospital.
Bellew also told the Inquirer that she’s not a racist, calling herself a “conservative, but not necessarily a Trump supporter,” adding that her connections to immigrants include grandparents who were from Ireland and her best friend, who is Puerto Rican. (People from Puerto Rico are US citizens and not immigrants.)
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 5, according to court records.
Quiñonez told WHYY Philadelphia that business has been great since the incident, with some people calling from outside the area and ordering pizzas to be delivered to local organizations.
“We’ve had phone calls from Germany, England, Poland, and Spain, all South America. It has been really, really nice,” Quiñonez said. “A lot of people, they drive an hour, two hours, just to come over here and buy a slice of pizza or say hi. That’s a really good thing.”