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The CEO and co-founder of a popular brewery in Brooklyn was criticized this week for describing coronavirus vaccine mandates as a ‘crime against humanity’ and drawing comparisons to the Jim Crow South and Germany Nazi.
In a series of tweets and an interview with Patch, Josh Stylman, who co-founded Threes Brewing, defended his opposition to mandates, including a requirement in New York that all bars and restaurants ask customers for proof of full vaccinations.
“If you don’t speak out against them, you’re a conspirator,” Mr. Stylman said. said in a tweet on warrants. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Yours happens to be unscientific, immoral and evil.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and science and health experts note that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract the coronavirus, making them more likely to spread it. And although vaccinated people can also spread the virus, vaccination is essential to lessen the severity of the disease once contracted.
Mr Stylman’s comments sparked an outpouring of backlash on social media, with some customers saying they would no longer visit Threes or buy his beer.
Mr. Stylman said in an interview with The Times that he felt compelled to publicly express his feelings because he considers compliance with mandates to enable “biomedical segregation”. He described having to turn away customers who did not provide proof of vaccination and called the experience “discrimination”.
“I guess I took action and wanted to publicly share a point of view to try to preserve any level of personal integrity or humanity,” he said.
On Thursday night, Threes Brewing employees released a joint statement on social media condemning Mr. Stylman’s comments, saying they would continue to comply with all government mandates. Employees highlighted the strict masking and social distancing measures they had taken, adding that they had refused to reopen until all workers had a chance to be vaccinated.
“We do not support our CEO Joshua Stylman’s comparisons of tenure to historic atrocities based on religion or race,” the employees said in the statement. “We believe the comparisons are inappropriate and inaccurate.”
“We care about our community, our partners, our staff and our environment. This has not changed and will not change,” they added.
Threes Brewing has locations in the Gowanus and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn, on Governors Island and in Huntington, NY
Mr Stylman told The Times that he is vaccinated and does not oppose vaccines on principle.
“My position is frankly, how can we tell another person to put something in their body or not be able to earn a living for their family,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate if people who work here, who don’t even share my views, have to have a consequence for an action that wasn’t theirs,” he added.
This week’s tweets weren’t Mr. Stylman’s first public statements on the matter. Earlier this month he drew a line between requiring customers to prove they have been vaccinated to enter indoor spaces and Nazi Germany and segregation in the Jim Crow South.
Lincoln Restler, a member of the Brooklyn City Council, said that he had planned to organize an event at Threes, but that after Mr. Stylman’s comments, he would choose a different venue. Although he celebrated many special occasions at the brewery, Mr Restler said he felt it was necessary to speak out against the blatant misinformation.
“I am deeply disappointed that the co-owner and managing partner is spreading lies and wildly inaccurate information that has undermined the health of our community,” Mr. Restler said. “Vaccines save lives.”
Andrew Gerber, 44, of Carroll Gardens, said he was a fan of Threes beer and the brewery atmosphere, but had no plans to return.
“Vaccination mandates are put in place to make sure we don’t kill ourselves more than we already do,” he said. “Comparing them to Nazi Germany and Jim Crow South is obscene.”
Seth Pollack, 32, of Gowanus, said it had been a staple of his neighborhood spot, with its industrial look and large backyard, for years. He’s been there for birthday parties, dates, and even on election night.
“It was a big surprise to me,” he said of Mr. Stylman’s comments. “I don’t think anyone expected this beloved place in Gowanus to be run by someone whose views are so far removed from those of much of the community here.”