When four Black soldiers from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, went to lunch at an off-post IHOP April 19, they were expecting to have a quiet meal and some conversation before returning to work.
It didn’t quite work out that way.
An unidentified white woman offered cash to pay for their meals, but returned shortly after to take the money back. She then began harassing them, as well as other patrons and restaurant workers.
One of the soldiers, all of whom remain unnamed, filmed the incident and uploaded it to TikTok, and Fort Belvoir officials are now investigating.
“She offered to pay for their meal, which is not uncommon when people meet military personnel, it’s a gesture as a way to thank them for their service,” said Joe Richard, director of public affairs for Fort Belvoir, in a statement to Military Times. “She placed $30 on their table.”
Moments later, however, she took $24 back, leaving just $6 on the table as she exited, Richard noted. Shortly thereafter, she returned to the restaurant and began harassing the four of them, claiming that they had stolen her money.
“You guys are … shitbags,” she said.
The woman then sat down in the booth, blocking one of the soldiers from moving.
“She became antagonistic, claiming the soldiers had taken her money and directed racially charged language at the soldiers,” Richard said.
They politely asked her to please leave, but she refused. The soldier stuck in the booth climbed over it to extricate himself.
“Are you the thin blue line, are you BLM, are you antifa?” the woman yelled as they gathered their leftovers.
An unnamed patron, purported to be an Air Force veteran in the TikTok video, attempted to intervene, asking the woman to leave. She then confronted him, spewing obscenities.
“Is this your restaurant? she said. “Motherfucker, I will fucking drop you. You wanna go? You wanna go?”
The four soldiers left the IHOP quietly, returned to Fort Belvoir and reported the incident to their chain of command and the garrison.
The garrison is investigating and the identities of the soldiers have not been released at the time of this writing.
Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.