AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CRAFT BEER COMMUNITY, THE TOWN OF SEASIDE, THE STATE OF OREGON, AND TO AMERICA.
On August 8th a group of armed men and women staged a rally in Seaside, Oregon, directly across from our brewery and brewpub. This rally was political in nature, and many of the participants of this rally were openly carrying loaded AR-15 style assault weapons, sidearms, bats, swords, knives, etc. There was no counter rally or protest at this location. As the rally continued and the honking and noise and activity increased, many families became concerned for their safety and began leaving the area we had created outside in our parking lot, designed to provide a safer environment for people to eat outside with their families during a difficult pandemic summer at the coast. Many of these families remarked they would not be returning again to Seaside because of the assault rifles they were seeing paraded up and down the street. One of these men with an assault rifle in front of our brewery was actually arrested for shooting at protesters in Portland just days later.
As a result of these events, we felt deep concern for the safety of our staff and customers, and at the next city council meeting we voiced those concerns. We did not take a political stance. We believe everyone can believe what they will, and that includes us. We did however, take a stand that we do not think marching through the streets of a small family friendly coastal town with loaded assault rifles is a good idea. It is in fact, an awful idea. Families were terrified, and left. It was proposed by us, that we as a community begin a conversation to figure out how to prevent armed groups from marching in our streets with loaded assault weapons. We asked that the council help us find a way to keep our community safe, our police force and first responders safe, and that we do something quickly to keep the reputation of our small coastal town intact so that families could feel safe when they come here as well.
The next day the local paper wrote an article, detailing parts of that discussion at the council meeting, and almost immediately, the phone and internet threats began pouring in from this group and its supporters. An event was posted by this particular group from the rally threatening us and called for an open carry rally to take place at our brewery this upcoming Sunday in an obvious effort to intimidate, terrorize, and punish the brewery for speaking up for our community's safety and exercising our 1st Amendment rights to free speech. We now are forced to take to the internet and make sure people understand that WE ARE NOT HOSTING THIS EVENT. We contacted Facebook and reported that the event was not ours, but they responded by saying that though they regret that we may have been offended by this event listing us as the location for their rally, it didn't meet their standards for removal. Our response to Facebook will be coming later and it won't be pretty. We did not ask for these groups to come to our brewery or to target us. We didn't target them at the council meeting. We simply asked for help from the city council to help resolve what was CLEARLY becoming a serious problem in our community, namely loaded assault rifles around children and families.
So just in case anybody out there is confused what we are about, let us be clear. We are a community based business. We are an inclusive business. We love all our employees regardless of their race, sexual orientation, gender, or political affiliation. We are NOT ok with racism in any form. We do NOT promote or accept fascism in any form. We ARE conscientious allies of any conversation furthering any productive discussions surrounding racial equality, and reform of any system that does not provide that for every single person in our community. We do not know, or belong to, or speak for any Antifa group. We do not know, belong to, or speak for BLM. We are not gun rights advocates OR opponents of the 2nd amendment. However, we do NOT appreciate nor will we accept, or remain silent, or be intimidated or terrorized by groups with guns or other weapons in our community. We reject any characterizations to the contrary these groups may try to paint us with.
We brew beer, we smoke BBQ, we promote our amazing community, we love the beach, and we are excellent to each other. We don't know what this rally will look like on Sunday. We ask that everyone do everything they can to stay safe, and to avoid any confrontation with these groups who are clearly looking for a fight. We refuse to buy into the anger. As Americans, we have always had a rich history of spirited debate and dialogue with each other. It's part of who we are. We should be able to yell at each other, stand across the street and shout, get nose to nose, hug it out, argue with each other some more, and find a way to love each other at the end of it all, without making each other fear for our lives or safety. None of those things are possible when loaded assault rifles and other weapons are involved in that exchange. An exchange that helps define what we need to do to move the ball forward as a community, and helps strengthen and support the foundations of our democracy through conversation, and subsequently, understanding of each other. Let's keep the dialogue going. Let's leave the guns at home. Let's not hurt each other. And let's remember that community is all we have, and remember that the definition of community means ALL of us. All we want is for us to have a safe place where good people can gather and have a pint of really good beer and good food and be able to connect with each other. That's it. That is all. If you can get down with that, we can provide the space. If you can't, pick somewhere else to go, and let us drink our beer in peace.
Everybody take a breath. Everybody remember that we all need each other, especially right now at this point in our history as a nation, and that we all want the same thing... Safety and opportunity for our families, our friends, and ourselves. Don't let them divide us. Put the guns down. Grab a beer. Let's talk.