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Police probing racially charged, anti-gay threats against downtown brewery

Someone sent threatening emails to Black Star Line Brewing Co., which opened last month at 131 Third Ave. West. Someone sent threatening emails to Black Star Line Brewing Co., which opened last month at 131 Third Ave. West.

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A downtown brewery that bills itself as a safe space for people of color and the lesbian and gay community was the target of vandalism and racially charged threats this week.
The Hendersonville Police Department is investigating a series of threatening emails sent to Black Star Line Brewing Co. Thursday and Friday.
“We had multiple threats on our website, different threats,” said Simon Melendez, a Black Star Line employee who spoke for owner and chief brewer L.A. McCrae. “Also we came in today and the keg electrical wires were cut. We had a few alerts go off in our building, we had a sign stolen among other things. It all started just about racism and hate.”
An email Friday afternoon followed previous messages and the damage that the brewery workers said they found when they opened.
“We are just getting started N----,” the email said. “We hate N----. Especially gay, men hating n----. We still coming …”
Detectives are investigating the threats.
“We took a communicating threats report last night on some vulgar and racial tones that were sent to them via email and on their website,” Hendersonville Police Capt. Bruce Simonds said. “It’s currently being investigated by the detective bureau.”
“It’s very disturbing,” he said of the language. “We take it seriously. The chief went down there and met with the owners. Problem is tracing an IP address” to a sender that disguises the origin.
Police have stepped up their watch over the bar on Third Avenue West.
“Absolutely,” Simonds said. “We do that with any threat or any break-in for the foreseeable future to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Describing itself as “the first black, family, & woman owned brewery” in the Asheville area, Black Star Line says that it aims to “create space for women, people of color, queer folks, and other folks with marginalized social identities. It is the spot that is truly for us and by us.”
In the meeting with the owner and employees, Chief Herbert Blake pledged support from police.
“He basically reassured us that this movement we have going here is going good for the city, that no matter what everybody has our back,” Melendez said.
He said the brewery has received a positive reception since it opened last month.
“We’re trying to be cautious and at the same time maintain a balance of peace and not have violence break out here and/or anywhere else, because of our cause,” he said. “We have people fighting for our side and people fighting against our side. People that agree and disagree feel very strongly on both sides.”
“Business wise, it’s been fantastic,” he added. “People have been coming in, having a good time. We’re just going to be welcoming. Hopefully, everybody will just be peaceful and we can stay the happy medium.”
Bartender Javier Naranjo, who recently moved here, said bar patrons have been uniformly supportive.
“It’s been all positive,” he said. “I haven’t had any inkling of any such belief or disdain for people like this.”