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DC Restaurant Apologizes for Hosting White Nationalist Group

A photo tweeted from a guest showed people making a Nazi salute, according to the restaurant

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    A popular Italian restaurant in Washington, D.C., has issued an apology for unintentionally hosting a white nationalist group that performed a Nazi salute while eating there.

    Maggiano's Little Italy posted an apology on its Facebook page Monday, saying the restaurant said it didn't realize it was hosting a banquet Friday for a group called the National Policy Institute. Its website says it advocates for the heritage and identity of those of European descent in the U.S.

    The post said the group made a reservation at the chain's Friendship Heights location at the last minute using a different name. The group was gathered in Washington for a conference and celebrated Republican Donald Trump's election.

    A photo tweeted from a guest showed people making a Nazi salute, the post said. The tweet came from reality star Tila Tequila, according to the Washington Times. Twitter has suspended her account.

    The next day, the National Policy Institute held a conference in a federal building in D.C., where its leader was seen on video saying "Hail Trump" and "hail our people" and receiving straight-armed Nazi-like salutes in response, and said white people don't gain from the presence of other racial groups. The man, Richard Spencer, told NBC News Monday he was being "cheeky," "exuberant" and "ironic."

    Bryan Lanza of Trump's transition team issued a statement Monday after widespread reporting of the conference: "President-elect Trump has continued to denounce racism of any kind and he was elected, because he will be a leader for every American. To think otherwise is a complete misrepresentation of the movement that united Americans from all backgrounds."

    And Trump told The New York Times Tuesday "I disavow and condemn" the white nationalist sympathizers who celebrated his election during the conference.

    Maggiano's said it has donated its profits from the evening to the Anti-Defamation League.

    The full message, from Steve Provost, president of Maggiano's Little Italy:

    "On Friday night, Maggiano’s in Friendship Heights was the inadvertent site of a protest that caused us to close our restaurant to protect the safety of our Teammates and Guests.

    The protesters were upset because of a banquet we were hosting for a group called the National Policy Institute (NPI). This was a last minute booking made Friday afternoon, and the reservation was made under a different name, therefore we were not aware that NPI was dining with us or what the group represents. After the event, a Guest sent a tweet in which she made a "Sieg Heil salute" in support of Hitler and white supremacy. This expression of support of Hitler is extremely offensive to us, as our restaurant is home to Teammates and Guests of every race, religion and cultural background.

    We want to sincerely apologize to the community of Friendship Heights for inadvertently hosting this meeting, which resulted in hateful sentiment. We want you to know that at the suggestion of one of our Guests, we are donating the profits from our restaurant sales on Friday, $10,000, to the DC office of the Anti-Defamation League, which for decades has been working to bring people together in peace and understanding."