A sign in support of Black Lives Matter put up outside the popular Montauk Brewing Company location in downtown Montauk in early June, shortly after George Floyd’s death, has suddenly re-emerged online, stoking a virulent firestorm of criticism.
The handwritten chalk sign said, in all capital letters, “The founders and team at Montauk Brewing Company support the movement with all our hearts. Black lives matters,” and noted that it had donated and will continue to support organizations that further the cause.
On Wednesday, August 12, a Facebook group called Defund the Montauk Brewing Company was formed, calling for the boycott of the company’s line of beers and ales. In 24 hours, it picked up more than 7,200 followers. By Friday, August 14, the membership had surpassed 12,000.
While there was no explanation why suddenly the sign, which has long been down though it lives on the Montauk Brewing Company’s social media pages, was suddenly getting attention. The group’s stated purpose is to bring awareness to the fact that the Montauk Brewing Company “has decided to take and make a poor decision by supporting a (sic) anti American terrorist group,” according to the Facebook page.
A blizzard of bad reviews for Montauk Brewing Company began appearing first on Facebook, which after a time took them down, and then on the brewing company’s Google review page and Yelp.
Several posters who said they were ex-police officers promised they would never buy the product again. Several other posters who said they were bar owners reported that they would never again carry the beer.
One of the owners of the company, Eric Moss, declined to comment Thursday on why the sign suddenly got attention or the impact on the business. But, he said, “That sign was from months ago. It was posted on June 2. The sign came down the next day.”
One of the first posts on the Facebook page, from Joe Lantino said, “Everyone and every business owner are adults they need to make a decision it’s been a long line drawn you’re either on the right side or the wrong side of the line this line happens to be blue.”
Moss’ father, John Moss, is a retired East Hampton Town police officer, according to The New York Times.
He explained that the sign was not meant to be a political statement. The company does not support either Donald Trump or Joseph Biden in the upcoming presidential election, he said.
“We have a long history of supporting the police, of donating to them. As well as the fire department,” Moss said.
Late Friday morning, a new sign appeared in front of Montauk Brewing Company and on social media. “We have, and will always support our local police, first responders, nurses, doctors, and fire departments. We also support equal rights for all. At the end of the day, we support good people doing good things,” it reads.
But those protesting the one-day appearance of a sign put up just days after a black man was allegedly murdered by police officers in Minneapolis, compare the Black Lives Matter movement to either Marxism or terrorism.
Some who posted called for a rally of “Blue Lives Matter” supporters in the park opposite the brewing company. Of those calling for a rally, it was clear from their posts that quite a few were not from Montauk, as they speak of it being “time to take a road trip.”
A “Back the Blue” rally is planned in Southampton Village Sept. 5. Black Lives Matter have been held across the East End, including in Montauk, over the past few months.
Moss said that the Montauk Brewing Company had no affiliation with any of the Montauk Black Lives Matter rallies. Tanish Lindsay, a key organizer for the rallies in Montauk, confirmed that fact Thursday. She said she had never met and knew nothing about Moss or any of his partners until she saw what was happening on social media that morning.
She asked how those three words, “black lives matter,” could set off such a firestorm. If the motto was, “blue lives matter” or “all lives matter,” would anybody care, she asked? “It’s the black that gets them,” she said.