Cobb business targeted because of past co-owner’s role in Capitol riot

Cleveland Grover Meredith of Hiawassee put several Black Lives Matter protesters on edge when he showed up with his rifle to hold a counterprotest of sorts on June 5, 2020. Meredith is among those facing federal charges after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. Photo courtesy of Shawn Jarrard/North Georgia News
Cleveland Grover Meredith of Hiawassee put several Black Lives Matter protesters on edge when he showed up with his rifle to hold a counterprotest of sorts on June 5, 2020. Meredith is among those facing federal charges after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol. Photo courtesy of Shawn Jarrard/North Georgia News

Credit: North Georgia News

Credit: North Georgia News

Home Town Car Wash and Emissions in Acworth is flooded with phone calls, but for manager Jason Mathison, it’s not for the right reasons.

The company has been the target of people expressing their outrage following last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Why? Because its former co-owner, Cleveland Grover Meredith, is among at least 13 people who face federal charges for their roles in the riot.

“We have never worked under Cleveland Meredith and totally disagree with his actions,” Mathison said.

Meredith, of Hiawassee, was charged with threatening House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. CNN reports that federal charging documents show Meredith also faces weapons charges.

ExploreGeorgia man among those facing federal charges following Capitol riot

The current owners took over the business, formerly known as Car Nutz Car Wash, from Meredith in 2019, Mathison said. Since news of Meredith’s arrest broke Saturday, Mathison said the business has been hit with an onslaught of calls berating them, as well as negative online reviews.

“We’ve been battling this for about three days,” Mathison said. “The phone rings off the hook now.”

Meredith attracted attention in metro Atlanta in 2018 when he erected a billboard, complete with the former name and logo of the business, on Cobb Parkway in Acworth espousing QAnon, a baseless and debunked conspiracy theory that holds Democrats and Hollywood elites are part of a secret cabal that snatches children to sexually exploit and kill for a supposed youth-regenerating chemical.

QAnon adherents believe President Donald Trump is in at war against the cabal, and some apparently saw this past week’s riot as a part of Trump’s planned takedown of the cabal.

ExploreCobb car wash put up billboard linking business to QAnon conspiracy

Meredith is one of a handful of Georgians who have been identified and charged so far following the riot. Buford resident Grant Moore is charged by U.S. Capitol Police with carrying a pistol without a license and having unregistered ammunition, according to a Jan. 7 news release from the agency.

The DC Metro police charged Alpharetta resident Christopher Georgia with unlawful entry and curfew violation, according to its spreadsheet that lists the arrest its officers made related to the riot. He was found dead in his home Saturday. The Fulton County Medical Examiner determined Georgia took his own life.

Eric Gavelek Munchel of Tennessee, a former Georgia resident believed to be the man who brought zip ties into the U.S. Capitol, also faces federal charges of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

Mathison said he stresses to anyone who calls that Meredith has not been involved with the car wash since 2019. He also went on NextDoor, a social media app that allows residents to post items for sale and information about activity in their neighborhoods, to make sure users know that Meredith has no ties with the current owners. He said bad online reviews have come from all over the country, as well as from Ontario, Canada.

He said he’s reaching out to Google and other websites where people can rate businesses to communicate the company’s situation. He also said he’s talked with local churches, stakeholders and charities to warn them that they may read the news about Meredith and his past association with the car wash.

“We’re just trying to run a small business, and the bad reviews and bad ratings are detrimental,” he said, adding the car wash business is competitive in the north metro Atlanta area.

ExploreGeorgia attorney among those who broke into U.S. Capitol

According to federal agents, Meredith is accused of sending a text message that threatened to put “a bullet in (Pelosi’s) noggin on Live TV” and another where he said he was going to Washington for the rally with armor-piercing bullets. The report notes that car trouble prevented Meredith from arriving in time for the pro-Trump rally, but he continued to Washington anyway.

Meredith was found Thursday by FBI agents at a Washington, D.C., hotel. According to the federal report, Meredith consented to a search and agents allegedly found an assault rifle, handguns, “hundreds of rounds of ammunition” and the threatening messages.

Mathison said people are receptive to his explanations, so he hopes that the negative calls and reviews will stop.

“We don’t condone those actions,” Mathison said of Meredith’s alleged involvement. “Not just by him, but anyone.”

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Ben Brasch and Chris Joyner contributed to this report.

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