Calls for a boycott and a public outcry over social media posts left Twelve Rounds Brewing owner Daniel Murphy reeling Tuesday morning as he expressed shock at the instant reaction to his Facebook political rant and concern that his East Sacramento business could be severely hurt.
The controversy erupted on Twitter late Monday after word got out that Murphy had posted on his personal Facebook page: “I am disgusted at all of the people and politicians that supported this anti-Trump event.” He was referring to the women’s march in the nation’s capital and scores of similar protests in cities throughout the country.
In largely Democratic East Sacramento, the comment unleashed an immediate and widespread backlash as several loyal customers said they wouldn’t return and others pledged to never spend their money at the popular business.
“I haven’t been to sleep. It has been a very eventful night,” Murphy said Tuesday morning. “I made a mistake in classifying everybody all together in that march on my personal Facebook, which I shouldn’t have done.”
Murphy, who owns the business with wife Elle Murphy, along with a handful of minority investors that include three partners from the popular Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar in midtown Sacramento, said he made the Facebook statement out of frustration at the division in the country.
But his post, along with several other incendiary political posts, have inspired many to call for a boycott. Twelve Rounds has been growing in popularity, won awards for its beers and recently invested in an expensive bottling line to expand their sales reach at the retail level.
This sudden uproar has them worried – and based on comments on Twitter and Facebook, they’re losing customers by the minute.
Chris Shultz, who described himself as a regular who patronized Twelve Rounds twice a month since it opened in August 2015, wrote on the brewery’s Facebook page, “As a husband and a father, I can’t in good conscience support a business that ‘is disgusted at all the people who supported this anti-Trump event.’ ”
On Twitter, Devin Blankenship responded to a screen grab of Murphy’s Facebook post by saying, “Ah crap, that’s my home brewery.” Others were quick to say they would no longer visit the brewery.
“Those calls for a boycott, they carry a lot of weight,” Elle Murphy said. “We hope and pray we survive that. We’re going to issue another apology and hope people give us another chance. But if they don’t, we’ll respect that.”
It turns out, Murphy’s Facebook posts were visible to friends and “friends of friends,” meaning that many in the local beer community had access to his views. Last night, he shut down his page altogether, before reviving it with more restrictive settings.
But Murphy’s post about the march was not his only political message. He has made comments suggesting Barack Obama is a traitor and a Muslim; he referred to abortion as murder; and he made clear his disdain for Hillary Clinton throughout the recent presidential campaign.
Some of his comments seem to be made on a whim. In one post from August, Murphy used a derogatory term for someone from Pakistan, saying the person had “just called on my cell phone and tried to tell me he was from Dell and needed my credit card number to fix malware on my PC. What a moron.” In one post, he displayed a statement calling the Islamic faith “barbaric.”
Asked if he had ever considered that his views might offend or alienate many of his customers, Murphy said, “I don’t want to cut out any of my customers. I’m ashamed that my political beliefs had offended people. I don’t want to come off as hateful.”
But Murphy didn’t leave it there. Asked how he sought to balance his right to free speech with his interests as a business owner, Murphy replied, “Apparently as a business owner, I don’t get free speech any more.”
Noting that he hadn’t slept, he added, “I’m absolutely exhausted. I feel spent. I feel sad. I wish I had kept my big mouth shut.”
Elle Murphy said she rushed home from out of town to console her husband. She does not have a Facebook account but went on the company’s Facebook page to say Daniel Murphy was not anti-woman. The barrage of replies suggest people weren’t buying it. She said Tuesday that they were preparing a more detailed apology that they plan to post on the Twelve Rounds Facebook page.
“We need to prove ourselves to our customers,” she said in an interview. “I’m not on social media at all. Words are so one-dimensional. We hope people go beyond words and go beyond social media. … His post was really born out of frustration and anger. That’s not an excuse. I mean, who would be stupid enough to say something that would wipe out our business?”
Red Rabbit co-owner Sonny Mayugba, who has a small stake in Twelve Rounds independent of his restaurant’s licensed corporation, issued a written statement following the uproar: “The Red Rabbit is not an owner of 12 Rounds Brewery. We had been in on-going talks about a future collaboration in executing their food program, which never happened and is not currently in process. The Red Rabbit is an all-inclusive business, and will remain so.”