LAKE STEVENS — Rumors claiming that a Lake Stevens bar has been hosting a far-right group called the Proud Boys has apparently led to vandalism, as well as the owners temporarily closing shop.
In a Facebook post, the owners of Razzals Bar & Grill, located on 4th Street NE off Highway 9, said they would be closed Friday and Saturday “in consideration of the safety of our community and employees.”
“Razzals Ownership does not condone or side with any groups or organizations that promote violence, racial or sexual bias of any kind,” the post said. “Razzals is currently and has been a ‘Family Friendly’ Sports Bar that serves the Lake Stevens Community.”
Prior to the posting, sometime Thursday night or Friday morning, the bar had been tagged with at least three messages. Photos show graffiti saying “NO NAZIS IN OUR TOWN” and “(Expletive) NAZI PROUDBOYS!”
A dumpster fire outside of the business also had been reported, Lake Stevens police Cmdr. Jeff Beazizo said. He said there were no witnesses, cameras or any other evidence indicating the cause of the fire. Police didn’t see the graffiti when they were at the scene and only learned of it when told by a Daily Herald reporter. Beazizo said it was possible the building had been tagged after police left the premises.
A woman who answered the phone at the business Friday declined to comment.
Proud Boys, founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, has been labeled as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and has drawn the attention of the FBI. Members are known for promoting political violence as well as anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric.
Rumors that the Proud Boys were meeting at the bar surfaced in the past week through social media posts depicting a photo of about 20 people, all holding up the OK sign, a symbol used with varying degrees of irony. The sign has risen in popularity in recent years among far-right groups and white supremacists. A Twitter user claiming to be affiliated with a local chapter of the Proud Boys claimed they regularly met at the bar.
A Lake Stevens resident, Terry Bockovich, wrote a Facebook post decrying the gatherings.
“Allowing their patronage and the patrons hosting their meetings at this location is well known,” she wrote. “Please join me in making a stand and sending a message that hate is not welcome in our communities. If they move to another location, PLEASE let the business know so they can be proactive.”
Bockovich, director of Down to Earth Community Gardens, said she was harassed by people claiming to be with the Proud Boys during the most recent elections, for supporting candidates that the far-right group opposed. Information about where she lived was shared online and purported members sent her what she considered threats.
Bockovich said she hasn’t let the messages interfere with her day-to-day life.
Others have reported similar harassment to authorities. Dan Myers, who runs a Facebook group called Lake Stevens Community Politics, said he received messages from anonymous social media accounts as recently as Thursday night, including one saying, “You want war boi?” His wife also has received messages, he said.
The accuracy of statements made by people tying themselves to the local Proud Boys group is unclear.
A man claiming to be a Proud Boys member, who identified himself as Daniel Lyons Scott of Snohomish County, said the local chapter has existed for more than a year, but wouldn’t say how it started and gave only vague details about how the members first met. He said they held monthly meetings, typically at bars.
Scott indicated the group was no longer welcome at Razzals, and would search for another local bar to meet at in the future.
Bockovich and Myers said they didn’t agree with vandalizing a business. But in speaking publicly, they said they wanted to send a clear message against hate groups gathering here.
“The goal was never to cause any harm, in any way, to a local business,” Bockovich said. “The idea is let’s not welcome this in our community. Anywhere that they move, let the businesses know they’re not going to be welcome there.”
Clarification: The Proud Boys far-right group has attracted the attention of the FBI, but the agency has not characterized it as extremist. This story previously mischaracterized the agency’s assessment of the organization.