SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Controversy is stemming from an incident at a South Carolina restaurant over the weekend.
The owners of The Celtic Knot Irish Pub say a group of 30-40 people, some of them identifying themselves as Proud Boys, came in for lunch on Saturday afternoon.
The Proud Boys is a right-wing group that describes themselves as “Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world.”
The owners, Dinah Yo and Derek Burcham, who were at home at the time, say they were contacted by an employee working behind the bar.
“We got a message from our bartenders that we were pretty much overrun with a group calling themselves the Proud Boys,” said Burcham.
Burcham told News 2 that the group was chanting, using profane language, and driving other customers out. He then explained the group began “swearing-in” new members of the Proud Boys on the front porch of The Celtic Knot.
“After the swearing-in ceremony happened, they began to pick five individuals to initiate another member by beating him,” said Burcham. “They were planning on doing it on the front steps. At this point I stepped in and said this will not happen here, this cannot happen here.”
Eventually, the group was asked to leave the bar.
“We would have kicked any group out that had been doing the same thing,” said Yo.
Witnesses who were associated with the group dispute this story. One says the atmosphere was peaceful — minus one short chant opposing Antifa, started by two women.
“We were inside having drinks,” said Tyler Bessenger, a member of Proud Boys. “The atmosphere inside was fine except for that five-second little kerfuffle and then a few minutes later the Proud Boys said they were going to leave.”
Bessinger also denied the story of the initiation beating, saying the Proud Boys does not use this method to initiate new members.
Since the incident on Saturday, an argument has ensued online between supporters on both sides.
Yo says her name, photo, and personal information has been shared to multiple Facebook groups supporters of the Proud Boys. She has had to “lockdown” her Facebook account, and fears for her business.
“They’re accusing us of things we’re not doing, they’re dragging our names through the mud, and they’re not gonna stop,” said Yo.
The owners of The Celtic Knot say they’re “not backing down” and don’t support “hate” in their establishment.