Halifax’s Timber Lounge owner responds to negative reviews after giving ‘Proud Boys’ the boot

A video posted online appears to show several men, including two Navy members, confront a group of demonstrators on Saturday, who had gathered to mourn atrocities committed against Indigenous Peoples. The group made national headlines following the incident. YouTube/Anonymous Maritimes

The owner of a Halifax axe-throwing venue is speaking out after his business received numerous negative reviews following an incident Saturday night.

Marc Chisholm, owner of Timber Lounge Halifaxe, said he received a call Saturday about a group of customers, some of whom identified themselves as being affiliated with the “Proud Boys” group.

“We asked them if they were affiliated with this group that we showed a picture of and they kind of said yes, so we clarified that they were part of that group,” Chisholm said. “That’s how they [employees] know, they caught on, they recognized them from the media.”

READ MORE: ‘This rhetoric isn’t harmless’: negative reaction to the presence of ‘Proud Boys’ in Halifax

Chisholm said he’s not sure if all of those at the business were part of the Proud Boys group, but a few of them were.

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He said staff contacted him, and one of them expressed he was uncomfortable with coaching them.

“We have Native members on staff and [they] just didn’t feel right coaching them and didn’t feel safe coaching them so I made the decision and backed up my staff,” Chisholm said. “Based on their present actions, we didn’t feel that it was safe for our staff or other patrons — there was another group throwing as well — so we just refunded their money and asked them to leave.”

He said there was “no scene” when the group left.

The Proud Boys made national headlines earlier this month when five men identifying themselves as group members interrupted an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax on Canada Day.

At the ceremony, the men walked up to where the group had gathered around a statue of the city’s founder Edward Cornwallis to mourn atrocities against Indigenous Peoples.

Wearing black polo shirts with yellow piping — one of them carrying a Red Ensign Flag — the men sang “God Save the Queen” as they walked toward the ceremony.

WATCH: The interruption of an Indigenous protest by Canadian Armed Forces members representing the “Proud Boys” organization has many wondering who the “Proud Boys” are and what their presence means in Canada. Dave Squires has more on that story.

Click to play video: 'Proud Boys: A look at the group who protested an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax' Proud Boys: A look at the group who protested an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax
Proud Boys: A look at the group who protested an Indigenous ceremony in Halifax – Jul 6, 2017

Only three days later, the Canadian Armed Forces confirmed the five men were members of the military and apologized for their actions. The men have since been suspended with pay as an investigation was conducted.

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Many of the comments on the Timber Lounge Facebook page claiming people were thrown out due to “political views” and being members of the Armed Forces.

“I will not take part in an establishment that does not respect members of the armed forces. I will also not take part in an establishment that turns people away for political purposes. Shameful,” reads one comment.

“Absolutely terrible treatment to a military service member,” said another.

But Chisholm said that is not the case.

“We had probably 150 members throwing [axes] from the aircraft carrier that came to Halifax and lots of military people through,” he said. “It’s not about political views, it’s about the safety of patrons at our bar.

“We do everything we can to encourage a safe, positive environment for everyone that walks in there.”

He said they’ve even thrown out some bachelor parties before for safety.

READ MORE: Canadian Armed Forces apologize for members’ actions at Indigenous ceremony in Halifax

Chisholm added he’d like the situation to just fade away because “with axes and beer, we have the right to make decisions.”

The business has been open since May 2016.

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With files from Alexander Quon, Global News and The Canadian Press

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