Staff members shut down a bar in Minneapolis after they learned that the owner had donated to former KKK leader David Duke’s 2016 Louisiana senate campaign. Club Jäger owner Julius DeRoma donated $500 to the former Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s senate bid, CityPages reported on Tuesday, and by Thursday the place was closed.
Employees learned about it on an emergency staff meeting. "We all showed up and just wept together and cried about the whole loss and shame of the thing," Drea Kingston said.
DeRoma and the bar itself immediately faced harsh criticism and a sharp decline in business, with many employees quitting and several musicians set to perform at the club canceling shows. A writer who had hosted trivia night at the bar for more than eight years canceled the recurring event as well. A few employees who remained out of necessity were labeled Nazi collaborators.
DeRoma defended his actions: “It’s just basically free speech.” “Well whatever,” He continued when asked about those who were offended by his donation. “What do you expect? It’s basically something that is blown up beyond what it should be.”
Sometimes people feel uncomfortable patronizing an establishment owned by someone with such views. Unsurprisingly, white supremacists made a brief attempt to make the bar a place of their own after learning about the donation. From the Star Tribune: “By Wednesday, the bar was desolate except for a few people who hadn’t heard about DeRoma’s donation and a half dozen white supremacists who made racist comments and harassed employees.”
Those who ran the bar decided to shutter it for good on Thursday. The former employees said they don’t know what DeRoma’s plans are for the club but they won’t be part of it.
He’ll probably just lay low for a little bit and reopen the bar, possibly with a new name.
A regular who visits Club Jagger started a GoFundMe for employees who left their job.