It’s hard to check your phone when you’re slammed behind the bar on a gorgeous Saturday. Josh Giles, manager of Burleson Yard Beer Garden on Austin St. and Lee’s Taco Garage, wasn’t privy to the the Charlottesville events, death and even San Anto’s local rallies during his August 12 shift.
But he awoke to a Facebook comment on Sunday morning that forced the manager to take a stand.
“I’m extremely disappointed to hear that our once beloved Burleson Yard Beer Garden would allow a group of neonazi provocateurs to assemble on their property. Sure, all dollars are green (or gold..) to business owners, but have some integrity, grow a backbone, and take a stand for something. I thank the heavens that we happened to not be there this evening, because I would not be okay with a white supremacist after-party a few tables over from the playground where my beautiful brown children are playing,” wrote Vanessa Loredo Drew in a post.
Giles responded personally to Drew, saying the “men weren’t conducting a rally, they were just having a few beers. I was more than prepared to kick them out if they behaved inappropriately beyond the clothes that they were wearing but they did nothing to cross that line. I’ll be honest, I lost some sleep over my move to not kick them out as a human being, but to me as a manager I police behaviors, not ideologies. I’m very, very sorry you feel that way.”
Giles recalled seeing a group of men wearing black and gold Fred Sperry polos, the same as those used by the “Proud Boys,” a conservative faction tied to white supremacist groups that “espouse an ‘anti-political correctness, anti-racial guilt’ agenda,” according to the Washington Post.
“Guys in the Sperry polos and Make America Great Again hats started trickling in on Saturday, but they weren’t doing anything, just drinking beers,” Giles told the Current. The group was later joined by folks carrying Confederate flags who Giles described as looking “more rough around the edges.”
According to Giles, the group started making remarks to people coming in and out of the bar, but this wasn’t brought to the attention of the staff until Sunday.
“I didn’t know what had happened in Charlottesville, and when I got off work, I started reading through our feed and people were posting to our wall asking if we were friendly towards that group,” he said.
On Sunday, Giles posted the following on Burleson’s page.
The status has been shared more than 50 times, with fans of the family-friendly establishment praising the bar. One said share also comes from another local business, Pinch Boil House & Bia Bar.
The new restaurant, which will open in the coming weeks, is owned by Andrew Ho and Sean Wen. The owners first saw Giles’ note Sunday and shared it the following evening with their own statement urging followers to join in “refusing to embolden racist ideals and to, instead, continue to steadfastly advance equality and inclusion.”
“I mean…it’s totally crazy out there,” Wen wrote. “And we just wanted to make sure people know where we stand on those issues!”
Giles said he’s received a few negative messages, but the response has been positive otherwise.
“If they had come in here with Nazi gear and swastikas, it would have been open and shut. The Trump hat isn’t the most offensive, but the Confederate flag should have been a red flag,” Giles said.
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