EAST BRUNSWICK — A pizzeria that a local police union has accused of anti-cop animus fired back Saturday by releasing a picture of a pizza box with writing that the eatery claims an officer mistook for a police slur.

The local PBA on Saturday issued a statement backing the police officer who claimed she saw the word "pig" or "pigs" written on the box when she went to Mancini Pizza on Route 18 to buy food on Aug. 1. A call to boycott the pizzeria had been circulating on Facebook for a few days, although the police union did not mention the boycott in their statement.

The  union's statement came after the pizzeria owner spoke to New Jersey 101.5 and other news organizations defending his restaurant, saying the uproar stemmed from the officer misinterpreting a shorthand squiggle on the box.

A day before the restaurant posted a picture of the purported box, owner Frank Mancini showed New Jersey 101.5 the same box, explaining that the "P" and squiggle that were written in marker on the box stood for a slice of plain pizza and an order of garlic twists.

The PBA denied that version of events and released a second statement Saturday saying that the photo "conjured up by Mancini Pizza, 11 days after the incident, is not an actual depiction of the original pizza box."

"It is unfortunate, but not surprising that Mancini Pizza would attempt to cover up the truth and continue to avoid taking responsibility for the behavior of their employees," the union said.

In its own statement, Mancini Pizza said that having been in business for seven years, the restaurant said they "instill in our workers the importance of treating all our customers with respect, dignity and appreciation."

Police Chief James Conroy on Saturday said the department is investigating, but did not respond to questions asking what exactly the department was probing.

The restaurant's statement says while the officer was waiting for her order another customer called in an order for a plain pizza and a garlic twist. Following the labeling system the restaurant said they wrote "p" for plain pizza, and a "squiggly sign" for the garlic twist.

The restaurant said the officer had ordered a panini, which would not come in a pizza box, but rather in a paper bag. After seeing the box, they said the officer asked why the employee had written "'PIGS' on my food?'"

"The owner attempted to explain to the police officer that it clearly did not say 'pigs,' but instead was the symbol for plain pizza and garlic twist," the statement said.

The restaurant said initially the officer "did not want to hear the owner's explanation," but eventually told the owner, "OK. I"m having a bad day, just give me my food."

According to the restaurant's statement the officer ended up leaving without her food and without getting her money back.

In an earlier statement the union called the incident "an affront to the officer involved, the East Brunswick Police Department, and the entire law enforcement community."

With both sides taking to social media the reaction from the public has also been split.

On the PBA's account some reactions have included:

Mancini's also has supporters on its Facebook page as well.

Screen Shot Mancini Pizza East Brunswick, via Facebook.
Screen Shot Mancini Pizza East Brunswick, via Facebook.
Screen shot of Mancini Pizza of East Brunswick, via Facebook
Screen shot of Mancini Pizza of East Brunswick, via Facebook

The restaurant said it was "disheartened and disappointed by these false allegations against our restaurant."

"We have worked very hard to establish the trust and loyalty of our customers and our community," the statement continued. "We will continue to serve all of our customers, neighbors, and the surrounding community with equal respect and provide outstanding quality."

As for the PBA, they said they will defend the officer's side of the incident as well, with neither side showing any signs of backing down.

"We will continue to stand by the officer's account of the event," the union said. "The East Brunswick PBA would like express our gratitude to the public and the law enforcement community who have been supportive."

Contact reporter Adam Hochron at 609-359-5326 or Adam.Hochron@townsquaremedia.com

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