A Minneapolis bar is suffering backlash as news spread that its owner donated $500 to former KKK leader David Duke’s 2016 Senate campaign.
Some performers canceled gigs at Club Jäger while patrons took to social media, vowing to take their business elsewhere after City Pages published a story about the political donation by the North Loop bar’s owner, Julius DeRoma, to Duke’s failed bid for the U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana.
DJ Jake Rudh announced on Facebook that he won’t host Transmission, his long-standing weekly dance night, at Club Jäger on Wednesday, or ever again at the bar. “I was shocked and appalled to hear the news about the venue’s owner this morning,” Rudh wrote in his Tuesday morning post. “I refuse to stay at a venue where the owner supports the likes of David Duke and his messages of hate.”
The 90s Preservation Society followed with their own Facebook post to say they were canceling their standing Thursday gig at the bar for the same reason. Instead, the group directed fans to a GoFundMe page where they could donate money to support the bar’s staff “who will be out of work soon.”
As social media racked up pledges to boycott the bar, some worried about those caught as collateral damage. “The Jäger staff have lovingly served the neighborhood for years,” stated the GoFundMe post that kicked off a $10,000 fundraising effort for employees who will leave to protest DeRoma’s donation to Duke and others who will lose their jobs if the bar closes because of the backlash.
“They are the people who will be affected by the fallout of this news and actions of one individual,” the GoFundMe post said.
DeRoma could not be reached for comment.
While fans and artists used their feet to protest Club Jäger’s owner, the board of directors for Huge Improv Theater issued a statement condemning the KKK and neo-Nazis after City Pages noted the theater company performs in a building owned by DeRoma. The mention in the story prompted some “negative reviews and statements” about the theater, said Butch Roy, Huge executive director and board president.
“From our first days we have worked to build an inclusive community,” the Huge directors said in their statement. The improv theater group has worked with other theaters throughout the country to form a “Student Bill of Rights and Boundaries guidelines to make sure our classes and stage are inclusive and free of threat or intimidation of any kind.”
Noting the theater is in the third year of a 10-year lease on the Lyn-Lake neighborhood building, Roy said the group “can’t just pick up and move out” in protest. Board members may eventually meet to talk about their options, he said.