The controversy over the potential recall of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has become so combative that it may be causing political "discrimination" in at least one local bar.
On Saturday, a group of six Scott Walker supporters decided to visit Rox's Bar and Grille in Pewaukee, WI. They had spent the day at a rally supporting the governor, and one of them was wearing a "Scott Walker is My Hero!" t-shirt.
They arrived at the bar around 1am, showed their IDs, and were told to have a good time. About an hour-and-a-half later, as they were on their way out, members of the group say the same bouncer who checked their IDs told them that because of the Scott Walker shirt, they were no longer welcome at the bar (although the exact verbiage used remains unclear).
A woman named Joanna Langworthy, who was one of the six, wrote on her blog that "the doorman said to never come back, due to wearing gear promoting Governor Scott Walker," while Facebook and earlier reports suggest "don't come back here wearing that crap again" was the phrase employed. Others maintain the bouncer said, "the next time you come here do not wear that shirt...my owner does not want that kind of stuff here."
Any way you look at it, the bar was apparently not happy with the pro-Walker t-shirt.
But what prompted the comments? That's in dispute, too.
The Walker supporters say they were not being disruptive, asking for signatures, or passing out brochures while at the bar. Jeff (who asked we withhold his last name for fear of retaliation) told The Blaze in an email: "There were no pamphlets, literature, signage, or anything else. It was just a group of six friends relaxing and having one more drink before going back to the hotel across the street."
The bar, however, has said in a recent statement that "we have had to deal with heated debates in our establishment, that could have potentially threatened the safety of our staff," and said the story is missing "many of the facts."
What are those "facts?" The Blaze has reached out to the bar several times and has not received a response.
And that is apparently the same silence the pro-Walker group is receiving. It tells The Blaze that it has privately tried to contact the bar's owners for clarification, but hasn't heard back. Instead, Rox's Bar and Grille released this statement on Facebook:
As the owners of the Rox Bar & Grille, we are quite sensitive to the fact that Wisconsin is a place where political passion runs high. We respect the rights of our patrons to believe and discuss what they choose. We do ask, however, that they do not advertise these political beliefs in any form (including distributing pamphlets or wearing politically affiliated clothing). We are neither pro-recall nor pro-Walker. We are an establishment that is trying to provide our patrons with an enjoyable, safe, adult environment.
Dennis Hronis, and Peter Hronis - Owners
The pro-Walker group members say there are no signs informing patrons of the "no politics policy,” and that they were allowed to enter and pay before being rudely dismissed on their way out. Jeff said, "The doorman checked all of our IDs before we entered and did not inform us of this 'policy,’ even though our 'advertised political beliefs' were visible as we entered the building. It was only after we had given them our business and hard-earned money, that we were informed by this same doorman that we were no longer welcome."
John, who describes himself as "a big Harley guy" and whose name we've changed for privacy concerns, allegedly witnessed the interaction and told the group in an email:
Both of us stopped in our tracks when we heard [the bar manager] point at your group [and] stated 'look at that shirt' (quotations added). We [saw] the Pro Walker kind of smile to each other and then heard [him] state to his Security/Bartenders that he didn't want anything political in his bar.
I am 49 years old have been riding for over forty of those years never ever did I think I would see old bikers be welcomed but nice middle age Pro Walker folks like your group told [you're] not welcome.
Scott Walker fans have expressed disapproval of the event and of the bar's "clarification" over Facebook, in a wave of more than 500 comments:
'If I wanted a drink in Pewaukee (which I don't), I'd sooner buy a 6-pack and go down to the river than to step foot in this obnoxious bar.'
'This bar would make a great hangout for union goons and Marxists'
'NO SHOES, NO SHIRT, PRO-WALKER SHIRT, NO SERVICE!'
'Hey, if Rox Bar & Grille can afford to lose good paying customers in this economy...that's their call. My call will be to not ever frequent their establishment again.'
Many of those leaving comments on Facebook speculate, like John (the "big Harley guy”), that the bar is in favor of recalling Governor Walker, and conclude that they will no longer go to a place where their political beliefs are clearly "not welcome." But even so, one person noted that the backlash against the bar isn't meant to put it out of business, but rather to send a message:
'...No one is actually trying to put this bar out of business, that is the Left's game. But, I have every right to use word of mouth to show disgust over the way we were treated. The pro-recall people boycott a place if an EMPLOYEE gave money to Walker! I could care less if the owners of this business support Walker or the recall. This was a matter of customer service...We are making the decision to share that with other people that may not want to be harassed for their t-shirt.'
Under pressure, the bar issued this apology on Monday, which alleges the full story isn't being told:
Dear Patrons of the Rox Bar and Grille,
We are sorry. To anyone that we have offended, we ask that you please accept our sincere apologies. I promise you though, this was a big misunderstanding that is missing many of the facts.
At Rox Bar and Grille, we take pride in ensuring our customer’s satisfaction. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with heated debates in our establishment, that could have potentially threatened the safety of our staff, as well as our patrons. We are a small, family owned business and when you walk through our doors, we feel a great responsibility to enforce a safe, family-friendly atmosphere. We truly do open our doors as if it were our home, and welcome anyone and everyone to spend time here with us. We DO NOT condone any type of discriminatory behavior in our establishment.
We are in constant pursuit of perfection and are already working on solutions that will prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.
We deeply value our relationship with our customers. Without all of you, we do not exist.
Yours in service,
Dennis Hronis and Peter Hronis - Owners
Those who have read the apology note that there is something of a "straw man" element to it, as the pro-Walker group claims there was nothing threatening, disruptive or unsafe about their behavior; one person was simply wearing a Scott Walker shirt.
Again, The Blaze called Rox's Bar and Grille multiple times for comment, but the owners could not be reached.
The Blaze has been contacted by the bar's management, which claims that the whole situation is a giant misunderstanding.
They say that the Scott Walker t-shirt also read "He's Got Nads!" on the back, so the bouncer was told to politely take the wearer aside and ask that he not wear anything too political or potentially offensive next time. Nothing inappropriate (like "crap") was said, and they certainly never "banned" the group from returning.
They also claim to have security footage proving that none of the other members of the group could have heard the offending statement, and will be providing it to The Blaze for a follow-up story tomorrow.