Hate Group Associated with White Supremacy and Misogyny Held a Meeting at Highland Park Brewery in Chinatown

Originally published on L.A. Taco.

More than a dozen members of the far-right Proud Boys men’s group organized a meeting on June 1st at Highland Park Brewery’s Chinatown location between the hours of 9p until closing, L.A. Taco has confirmed.

A witness who was there and asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons informs us that 14 members of the group were there. The men stood out from the rest of the crowd because of their polo shirts and red hats, which has been recognized as their uniform of sorts, and T-shirts with Trump memorabilia.

“They were there to be seen and to intimidate, right by the entrance,” the witness says.

The group, started by Gavin McInnes in 2016, a VICE co-founder, has been labeled a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. On their website, they boast their values as being centered around “venerating the housewife,” being “anti-racial guilt,” and for “closed borders.” McInnes is infamous for making statements such as: “Maybe the reason I’m sexist is because women are dumb. No, I’m just kidding, ladies. But you do tend to not thrive in certain areas — like writing.”

He has also openly called himself “Islamophobic.”

The witness at the June 1st incident said that some of the so-called Proud Boys loitered outside the brewery, while only a few drank beers inside. According to the source, the staff noticed their presence and called management to see how they should proceed. “I went to the bartender, who was African-American, and he told me he felt uneasy about it. As more of them showed up, more customers who also noticed them started leaving the premises.”

'We did not know they were meeting at our establishment.'

The meeting happened about a week before California’s primary election, where conservative Republican candidates pulled ahead over many liberal Democrats on this year’s ballot; California will have a Republican candidate for governor in the November election.

This was not the first time the Proud Boys chose to hold a meeting at a public space like a craft brewery. In October of last year, a group of them dined and enjoyed an evening at a brewery in San Francisco’s Mission District named Southern Pacific Brewing. A report on Hoodline has all of the details, but like Highland Park Brewery, the staff was aware of their presence and served them. However, once the media and public found out, the brewery disavowed them and stated that Proud Boys “aren’t welcome” to the brewery anymore.

An email sent to Proud Boys asking to confirm their meeting that Friday night was returned with an inconclusive response saying that the information on the place, time, location, and topics of meet-ups are “for members only.” While an email sent to Highland Park Brewery asking for comment returned the following from Bob Kunz, the owner and brewer:

“First off, Highland Park Brewery celebrates diversity and equality in everything we do. I have to admit I had never heard of Proud Boys prior to your email. I had to google them to see what you were talking about. We did not know they were meeting at our establishment. Rest assured chauvinism and far right views are not values we align with. We live and carry on business in Los Angeles because we love the diversity the city has offer. It is what makes this such a great city. We celebrate equality.”

When pressed with a follow-up email inquiring whether the Proud Boys are welcome back to the brewery and whether they would be served again, Kunz responded with the following:

“We absolutely would refuse to serve any organized gathering of a group harboring hate, bigotry, racism, or anything of the sort. As I mentioned prior, we choose to do business in the city of Los Angeles because of its great diversity. We believe in equality and acceptance. There is no other path forward.

We were taken off guard and surprised to hear that this had happened at our Brewery. We did not condone that gathering in any way.”

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