Montauk Brewing continues to face calls for boycott following Black Lives Matter message
A chalkboard reading "Black Lives Matter" at Montauk Brewing Company prompted a boycott. But amid the backlash, the brewery is finding just as much support.
The message was displayed in support of the movement back in June saying, "The founders and team at Montauk Brewing Company support the movement with all our hearts. Black Lives Matter."
Those words touched off plenty of criticism from Long Island residents who say they "Back the Blue," including Michael O'Keefe, of Farmingdale.
"Black Lives Matter want to destroy the police, they want to destroy law and order. They want to destroy society as it exists," he says.
O'Keefe is a retired NYPD detective, and is among 26,000 members of a Facebook group called Defund Montauk Brewing Company, which is calling for a boycott of the company's line of beers and ales.
"Police officers who are for the most part big beer drinkers are not buying this product, and they're letting everybody know that they know that his company supports Black Lives Matter," says O'Keefe.
Montauk Brewing Company decline a request for an interview, but responded to its critics in a letter on its Facebook page.
"Our post was specifically in support of racial equality...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."
It also issued a statement, saying, "We'll always support the people of our Long Island home, and their right to peacefully protest, but will never condone violence of any kind against those who keep us safe and secure."
East Hampton Town Police Chief Michael Sarlo came to the company's defense, saying, "Their intent was to promote anti-racism and support social justice, not to fund BLM and they meant no ill will toward police."
But O'Keefe and others still say they don't buy it.
"You don't back a group like Black Lives Matter who are not for unity and do not support the police," he says.