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Racist “Proud Boys” not welcome in Portland

by | Aug 3, 2021 | Anti-racism, News, Spotlight

July 31 was a sweltering Saturday afternoon, but the crowd across from Mathew’s Pub kept growing as people gathered to protest the bar which has become a monthly meeting place for The Proud Boys. Pines and Roses reporters Tennessee Pierce and Sam Spadafore roamed the parking lot chatting with people who’d rather not be named in an article about a notoriously violent hate group. 

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Around forty people stood together on the opposite side of Free Street in downtown Portland outside Matthew’s, Maine’s oldest pub. There was no chanting, no reactions, and no dancing to the catchy tunes that thumped out of the bar. The protest organizers wanted a peaceful protest. They got it. 

“When you accept a hate group [in your establishment] you’re actively making it unsafe for a large portion of the community,” said one person.

Proud Boys member. Photo credit the New Republic

A Mathew’s regular offered the protestors water and ice in plastic cups. A protester responded, “They’re just trying to deflect attention. Water is not what we’re looking for.”

After the water wasn’t accepted, the regular began to shout at protesters for trusting Pat Hogan, a bartender who claims to have been fired over refusing to serve The Proud Boys. The regular then made disparaging comments about Hogan and began yelling at the protesters for being silent. “If you’re going to protest, protest! Can’t see your signs little alone read ’em!” 

One protester claims to have heard Mathew’s employees say the protesters would get tired soon because they’re “lazy and unemployed.” However, protestors stayed for the full two hours, making sure to hold their signs up for trolley tours which were filled to the brim with tourists. 

Signs read, “Piss Boys Out,” “At Mathew’s your beers support racism,” “You can have their money or your integrity but not both,” and simply “Fuck Mathew’s.”

We asked people what they were hoping to accomplish from the protest. 

“Their response has been performative so far, which is nice but they have to be practicing what they preach,” said one of the protestors as they pointed to their sign. Mathew’s changed their sign mid-protest to “Love not hate.”

“Fuck Proud Boys, fuck fascism, and fuck Mathew’s for supporting them.” 

“It’s your responsibility to the community to know these guys [The Proud Boys],” another protester said. “Ignorance is not an excuse in 2021.” 

Many there agreed when it comes to what outcome they hoped for from their public pressure. They want Mathew’s to stop serving The Proud Boys and to stop being a safe meeting place for the group to plot. 

“[We want a] reckoning and an apology. Stop having a business relationship with racists.”

“I don’t want this to be a $14 cocktail bar. I want a working-class bar,” said another protester. “I used to drink here. Go see shows here.” 

Another protestor stated they used to play live music in the bar and that many people there were once regulars of the long-serving Portland watering hole.

One attendee later reported of what they heard from Mathew’s regulars and employees, “They’re kinda all over the place. Lots of minimizing. They have a narrative already ready to go. Keeping it [the protests] sustained is gonna be the best in my opinion. They’re just doing damage control for everyone in here and talking shit. They’re definitely stressed but trying not to show it…They are certainly dealing with some cognitive dissonance right now.”

Tennessee moved across the country and now resides in Portland, Maine. You can find her being honked at for not understanding traffic circles.

Sam Spadafore (He/him they/them) is a white, queer, gay, nonbinary trans man currently living on settled Wabanaki tribal land known as Portland, Maine. Sam writes poetry and articles focusing on mental health, Queer and Trans issues, sex and sexuality. They are also a consent educator, actor, activist, and steering committee member at MaineTransNet. Check out what Sam’s been up to at samspadaforeofficial.com.

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