DJs, tenants have cut ties or distanced themselves from Club Jäger owner
Staff at Club Jager have quit after news broke that the owner supported the 2016 Senate run of David Duke, a white nationalist and former KKK leader.
Regulars, DJs and local groups blasted the owner of Club Jäger following a story published by City Pages that detailed Julius DeRoma’s donation to Duke’s campaign to represent Louisiana in Congress.
According to public records filed with the Federal Exchange Commission, DeRoma donated $500 to Duke’s Senate bid.
DeRoma could not be reached for comment. In an interview with WCCO, DeRoma said the donation was “basically free speech” that had been “blown up beyond what it should be.”
An employee told The Journal that Aug. 31 was the staff’s last night. Current and former employees of Club Jäger had previously distanced themselves from the bar’s owner.
“The staff and I are sick about this. This is not who we are or what we believe in,” said Ryan Crossland, the bar’s general manager, in a public Facebook post before staff quit.
Drea Kingston, a former bartender at the bar, said DeRoma wasn’t ever at the bar, which she described as an “amazing place to work.”
“I do not condone and am staunchly opposed to his vile actions and his ideologies. The staff at Jäger is a beautiful, diverse group of amazing individuals. None of us knew about Julius’ efforts to advance the works of hate…,” she wrote on Facebook. “My heart breaks for our displaced staff and entertainers and for the loss of what was created and maintained.”
Jake Rudh, the DJ behind the popular Transmission dance nights, said that he will no longer host the weekly event at the North Loop bar.
“I refuse to stay at a venue where the owner supports the likes of David Duke and his messages of hate,” he wrote on Facebook. “Bigotry, hate, violence, and racism has no place at Transmission or anywhere on this planet.”
The 90s Preservation Society canceled its parties, including one this weekend, at the venue. Instead, it directed fans to support a GoFundMe created to support the bar’s staff.
Rep. Keith Ellison said in a statement that people should raise their voices against “haters like Duke, but also to the financiers of his hate.”
“Minneapolis prides itself on its diversity and willingness to accept all people — no matter their race and religion. The views of David Duke, the KKK, and white supremacists everywhere are at complete odds with our Constitution and Minnesota values,” he said.
DeRoma is a real estate developer and owns several buildings in Minneapolis, including the home of Huge Theater. In a statement, the Lyn-Lake improv theater, which is in its third year of a 10-year lease, said it was not aware of its landlord’s donation. The group has worked with other theaters around the country to develop student guidelines “to make sure our classes and stage are inclusive and free of threat or intimidation of any kind.”
“From our first days we have worked to build an inclusive community and to illuminate the path from student to stage so we could share this art form we love,” its board of directors said in a statement. “For these reasons and more, we would like to formally tell Nazis and the KKK that they can [expletive] straight off.”
DeRoma is also the landlord of Uptown’s Buffalo Exchange. The vintage and used clothing store said in a statement that the business is “not aligned with him or his views.”
“Buffalo Exchange is a family-owned business committed to celebrating diversity and individuality through inclusion and fashion. We stand against discrimination and hate in every way,” it said.
De Roma owns the building home to Legacy Glassworks, and a shop statement said owners, residents and staff “denounce racism and bias in any form. We will continue to foster an inclusive work and community environment.”
Club Jäger, built in 1906, is one of the city’s oldest continuously operated bars. DeRoma bought it in 2004.
– Michelle Bruch contributed to this report