Kyle Rittenhouse and Defiance Press were planning a series of events they said were about free speech.
Now they’re lashing out because two of those events have been canceled — but one of the venues just shared the real reasons for the cancelation with us.
Southern Star Brewery says that when they were first contacted, they weren’t told who the ‘special guest’ would be. Imagine thinking you were holding — as a small family-owned business — an event for a group billing itself as a “conservative publishing house,” and finding out that it was actually a rally with one of the current stars of the MAGA movement.
That’s a significant difference in scale, already.
Those two descriptions give two massively different impressions.
That isn’t all though — Southern Star’s CEO, Dave Fougeron, says that the group went on to use promotional materials that falsely linked the company to the rally as more than just a venue renting out space.
They used the Southern Star logo without permission, and described the brewery as “hosting” the rally.
Southern Star, which had received no deposit to hold the space, was receiving polite inquiries from their longstanding customers, expressing their distaste for the rally.
Now, instead, they’re receiving threatening letters from Rittenhouse’s fan base, and are concerned for the safety of their employee.
On top of that, they’ve been further misrepresented as having “caved” to pressure from retailers, and Fougeron points out, “that statement alone may be enough to put us out of business should retailers decide to distance themselves from us.” He concludes:
[W]e are being unfairly targeted by an aggressive group with threats to our company and staff. We now wholeheartedly believe we made the right decision to deny rental space to this group who seems hell-bent to push their political agenda by force to the detriment of small local businesses. We did not fold to the “woke” crowd, we made a business decision that we felt was in our best financial interest.
As you can see, Kyle and his supporters are now disseminating statements that the brewery “support[s] censorship” and telling people not to patronize it.You can read Southern Star Brewery’s full statement below:
Some words from us to clear some of the misinformation out there about us and our decision to cancel the rental.
1) We are a small family-owned business that is struggling like everyone else in the shrinking craft beer market.
2) We do rent out brewery space to individuals and parties looking to host events
3) When we booked the event in question, we were told that it was for a conservative publishing house that was looking to hold an anti-censorship event and they were going to have a special guest whom they were not ready to announce who would turn out to be Mr. Rittenhouse.
4) A great many of our paying customers respectfully wrote and called telling us their opposition to this rally being held at our place. The rally in question claimed we were “hosting” the event and used our logo without our permission on their marketing materials, implying we invited them and supported their cause.
5) Being an apolitical establishment whose sole concern is crafting and selling the best beer possible to a paying customer base, we decided to deny the brewery rental to this group (as is our right) so as not to alienate our paying customers. No deposit was paid to secure the establishment.
6) Out of respect, we called the coordinator of the rally to explain to him why we were refusing the rental request. This individual then released a press statement containing blatant lies about the reasons we denied rental to them, including a claim that our retailers pressured us to cancel the rental. That statement alone may be enough to put us out of business should retailers decide to distance themselves from us. We have nine employees that depend on their paychecks to feed their families. The organizer apparently would rather push his political agenda than respect our rights as a company to deny him a service that would cause us financial hardship.
7) As of this weekend, we have received hundreds of threatening messages from the rally’s supporters. Based on the language of some of these threats, we now believe that my staff may be in danger.
In summary, we are being unfairly targeted by an aggressive group with threats to our company and staff. We now wholeheartedly believe we made the right decision to deny rental space to this group who seems hell-bent to push their political agenda by force to the detriment of small local businesses. We did not fold to the “woke” crowd, we made a business decision that we felt was in our best financial interest. It is an unfortunate state of affairs. We don’t want to be in the middle of a political debate that is not ours. We just want to make beer.
Thanks for reading through our somewhat lengthy statement, and we hope we are represented fairly in any news.
Southern Star Brewing