[dropcap size=big]L[/dropcap]os Angeles police were called to an altercation at a neighborhood bar in Atwater Village on Saturday that stemmed from a gathering of members or supporters of a known hate group.
Proud Boys, a self-described “western chauvinist” men’s club that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group, were patronizing The Griffin on Los Feliz Boulevard on Saturday night, when word began spreading of the group’s presence.
Many of them were wearing red “Make America Great Again” hats and black polo shirts trimmed in yellow stripes from the Fred Perry fashion label, garments commonly associated with the group (the Fred Perry brand has distanced itself from the association).
Local activists, including members of Los Angeles Democratic Socialists of America and a new group calling itself Defend North East Los Angeles, say they were alerted via text and called on supporters to go to The Griffin as part of an impromptu protest, to confront the Proud Boys who were inside.
Josh Androsky, a member of L.A. Democratic Socialists of America, was part of the group that confronted Proud Boys supporters at The Griffin. “Nazis need to know they’re not welcome here, and they’re not allowed to have fun here,” Androsky told L.A. Taco in an interview. “We all went and made sure they know that.”
According to Androsky, the Proud Boys in the bar numbered around 20, and he estimated there were around eight of the anti-Proud Boys activists. He said several patrons joined in the chants and stood with the activists after the confrontation was moved outside the bar.
LAPD officers were called to the bar at 10:35 p.m., in response to a report of “large groups fighting at the 3000 block of Los Feliz Boulevard,” said Officer Rosario Herrera.
“When officers arrived they advised both parties to leave the location, both agreed and there was no report taken at that time,” Herrera told L.A. Taco.
There were no arrests.
Cell phone video shot on Saturday shows a uniformed LAPD officer standing in a crowd of patrons and staff inside the bar, where the lights were turned on. A crowd in the background is chanting, “No Proud Boys, No KKK, no fascist USA.” An unidentified man in a black T-shirt and black-and-gold baseball cap can be seen flashing the ‘OK’ sign with both of his hands to someone off camera — a gesture whose origins the Anti-Defamation League has tracedto a “white power” meme born on the online forum 4chan.
In another video, filmed outside the bar, a young man standing in a group of men wearing “MAGA” hats and black and gold-trimmed polo shirt is heard arguing with someone off camera, saying: “... and Irish people were slaves just like the f-cking black people. I don't wanna hear that f-cking shit.”
When someone attempts to say something in response, the man says, "Wah wah wah wah.”
“Let’s go home,” an older-looking woman who steps in says to the man, tapping him on the arm. (“Sure looks like a proud boy’s mom,” Androsky later tweeted.)
The Proud Boys, founded in 2016 by Gavin McInnes, a media provocateur and an original co-founder of VICE magazine, boasts that their values center around “venerating the housewife,” being “anti-racial guilt,” and for “closed borders.” McInnes is infamous for making statements such as: “Maybe the reason I’m sexist is because women are dumb.” He has also openly called himself “Islamophobic.”
McInnes denies any connection between his group and the far right.
This is at least the second time in recent weeks that a public gathering of Proud Boy supporters in Los Angeles has drawn public outcry. On June 1, Proud Boy members gathered at the Highland Park Brewery location in Chinatown, which also sparked outcry but did not result in any altercations or arrests.
Androsky added that security and waitstaff at the bar ignored “multiple” pleas from the group to stop serving the Proud Boys supporters and ask them to leave the bar. He says one bouncer replied, “The only color I see is green.” (The bar did not respond to the allegation.)
A video shows a bar employee briefly defending the gathering before shouting, "Why am I defending them?! I'm a liberal!"
In a tweet, the Proud Boys shifted the blame to Androsky, saying he and his friends came in "looking to start a problem."
The group’s verified Twitter page posted Androsky’s profile pic from with the statement: “Alpha as fuck.” Sympathetic commenters criticized the DSA activists, and Androsky in particular, for disregarding free speech or assembly. One of them appears to refer to Androsky, who is Jewish, using the Pepe the Frog meme.
Early Sunday afternoon, as news of the confrontation circulated on social media and led to calls to boycott the bar, a co-owner of The Griffin posted an apology to the bar’s Instagram account. The statement admitted “mistakes” were made, which it attributed to “lack of communication and inexperience.”
“Neither I nor my business partner support any Nazi or white supremacist groups and this is not a Nazi bar,” said the statement, which was posted with no name attached.
The owners of the bar were identified by The Eastsider LA as Jonathan Blaize Hensleigh and Aaron Mark Chepenik, citing by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.
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