Pictured Above: The Montauk Brewing Company, as seen in their Facebook cover photo.
Back in early June when the world was still newly horrified by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, owners of the Montauk Brewing Company hand-lettered their support for the Black Lives Matter movement on a chalkboard sign outside the brewery’s Erie Ave., Montauk location.
It took nearly six weeks for the inner viral workings of the internet to unleash a backlash against the sign, when a private Facebook group called “Defund Montauk Brewing Company,” created Aug. 12, ballooned to nearly 20,000 members within four days looking to boycott the business.
The group says its purpose is to “bring awareness Due The recent events that montauk brewing company has decided to take and make a poor decision by supporting a anti American terrorist group.”
The group’s administrators are Valeria and Rob Frank — according to their Facebook profiles, Mr. Frank lives in Farmingdale and Ms. Frank lives in Nassau County but is originally from Moscow, Russia. Neither of their public profiles list that they have any Facebook friends.
The June 3 message on the sign stated “the founders and team at Montauk Brewing Company support the movement with all our hearts. Black lives matter. We have donated and will continue to support organizations that further the cause. Come as you are. ❤️ Montauk Brewing Co.”
Trouble began brewing in mid-August on an Aug. 7, 2019 post on the microbrewery’s Facebook page advertising an innocuous-seeming limited edition t-shirt with a line drawing of the brewery and its “Come As You Are” tagline, which received nearly 250 comments as of this writing.
Detractors reposted photos of the chalkboard message supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, while supporters said the message was all the more reason to drink Montauk’s beer. Here are some of the more family-friendly comments:
“I don’t see the blackboard on the t-shirt where you liberal losers support BLM..I hope your happy when you file for chapter 11,” said one detractor, Michael Colwell.
“Never again! You choose to support an organization that does not save lives, does not support the lives they claim to. Only to destroy and kill LEO of all races. Educate yourself on the organization that you support. Is that really what you stand with?!!!” said Danielle Russo.
“Done supporting your company. Bad choice on your part. Shameful in fact. Did you even research BLM and google things said by their leaders? Google what goes on at their riots? What they advocate? This Long Island family is done with your beer,” said Patti Murphy. “We will be dumping what we have in the fridge and will NOT be giving you anymore money so that you can funnel it to that hate group. Our growler will be going into the recycling trash!”
There were many supporters as well.
“This Long Island family supports you and will continue buying your great beers! Thank you for standing up for what is right,” said Barbara Both Wasilausky.
“Why do folks feel that saying Black Lives Matter means that Blue Lives do not? Help me understand,” said Melissa Davidson.
“Support -! Love your beer and will be sure to openly acknowledge this!,” said Patrice K. O’Malley Miller.
On Aug. 15, the brewery’s founders, Vaughan Cutillo and Eric Moss, issued an open letter to the community.
“We are a small community-based, 10-person business that has always wanted all people to have good vibes — no matter who they are. Our tagline “Come As You Are” is about inclusivity — we want everyone who likes bear to feel great,” he wrote. “That is why, this past June, we spoke up about an event that displayed racism and responded by donating to two nonprofits, BEAM (focused on emotional/mental health and healing) and the NAACP. While our post received overwhelming support initially, recent responses made us realize that we should clarify and affirm our intent. Our post was specifically in support of racial equality. We unequivocally and unapologetically, stand against racism and violence in any capacity.”
“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,” he added. “Because they are good people doing good things, and protecting the good vibe mantra that our brewery stands for.”