Clashes between pro-police Back The Blue proponents and the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement have spilled from protests in the streets and into the beer aisle.
The latest flash point in the debate came when Montauk Brewing Company posted a message supporting Black Lives Matter on a chalkboard outside of its tasting room in June. In response, a Facebook group called Defund Montauk Brewing Company — alluding to racial justice protesters’ calls to defund the police — formed Wednesday, drawing more than 22,000 members as of Monday.
“This group is to bring awareness due the recent events that Montauk Brewing Company has decided to take and make a poor decision by supporting [an] anti-American terrorist group,” according to the Facebook group’s administrators touting the hashtags #BackTheBlue and #WontBuyYourBrew
Black Lives Matter protesters — who are not designated as a terrorist group by the federal government — have been increasingly calling for racial equality and police reforms in demonstrations nationwide and across Long Island since a Minneapolis police officer allegedly murdered George Floyd in late May. Back The Blue rallies on LI have countered that it’s police officers who are being treated unfairly.
The brewery’s chalkboard message came after the brewery donated to the NAACP and the Black Emotional And Mental Health Collective (BEAM) in early June. Why the backlash came two months afterward is unclear.
“The founders and team at Montauk Brewing Company support the movement with all our hearts,” the chalkboard message stated. “Black Lives Matter. We have donated and will continue to support organizations that further that cause.”
Montauk Brewing Company, which has emerged as the second-largest craft brewery on LI — out of about 50 microbreweries in Nassau and Suffolk counties — based on sales volume behind Blue Point Brewing Company, defended its stance as a call for unity. It repeated that its tagline is “Come as you are,” which the brewery called a message meant to foster inclusivity.
“We unequivocally, and unapologetically, stand against racism and violence in any capacity,” Montauk Brewing Company said in a statement Saturday. “We also have, and always will support, our police, first responders, nurses, doctors, fire departments, and the military for their unwavering help, protection, and selflessness.”
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