Kim Finch looks tired. The owner of two of Dallas' most popular dives, Double Wide near Expo Park and Single Wide on Lower Greenville, is a regular presence slinging drinks behind the bar. But on a Friday night at the end of September, the last week has taken its toll, as Double Wide has received threats of arson and property damage from anti-fascist groups and social justice warriors over an incident that took place there on Sept. 22.
“This is my livelihood. I worked my ass off for 11 years to keep this place open,” Finch says. The backlash that unfolded on social media eventually led to a (ultimately aborted) protest of Double Wide, which was then countered by an anti-protest that was held by the bar itself last Friday.
“For people who are anti-hate, they sure are hateful,” Finch says.
The controversy started after staff ejected two patrons from the Double Wide after throwing verbal barbs at staff members and a biker who was there having drinks. The biker, Chris Hayden, arrived at the bar about an hour before the encounter by himself. Hayden, although not a regular, had been to the bar in the past and hadn’t received any notable grief from fellow patrons in the past.
Travis Huse and his friend saw the patches on Hayden’s vest and noticed the SS lightning bolt on his chest.
Not long after, Hayden notified the bar manager, Corey Howe, that Huse and his friend were antagonizing him about his patches. The duo was asked to leave Hayden alone and business briefly returned to normal until Anthony DeAlcuaz, Double Wide’s bouncer, says they approached the biker again, this time becoming physically aggressive while berating him for his patch. “They sat right behind him and called him something along the lines of ‘a fucking Nazi,’” DeAlcuaz says.
Howe, who is Jewish, and DeAlcuaz had to forcibly remove Huse and his friend who pushed back at the staff members who asked them to leave.
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Throughout the whole ordeal, Hayden remained calm and reportedly offered to have a conversation about his patch. A one-minute video, titled “Nazi scum at Doublewide Bar in Dallas,” was posted online the day after and shows the biker standing with DeAlcuaz and Howe while Huse and his friend continue to yell at them.
The video, which only portrays a fraction of the incident, was edited down, according to DeAlcuaz, who says that the phone was recording for much longer. A swirling vortex of internet rage and misunderstanding has filled the air since the video was posted, causing a simple bar dispute to morph into a misshapen beast.
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Antifa, an anti-fascism organization with loosely connected operations across the country, took the lead in the battle against Double Wide just a few days after posting the video on their own YouTube page. The same day, Antifa’s webpage announced a boycott. The Trinity River Lookout, a group associated with Antifa, announced a protest march several days later but canceled the event. “They’re demanding a dress code from us,” Finch says. “Until then they will boycott, protest and smear our name.”
The patch that has people up in arms has multiple meanings in biker culture, but the internet being the internet, people have mercilessly spammed Double Wide’s Facebook and Yelp pages with dozens of reviews and comments that claim the bar harbors neo-Nazis. The SS patch is generally a symbol of rebellion in biker culture and not necessarily indicative of any racial attitudes. “There are certain things about that patch that I don’t like as well,” Howe acknowledges. “But the security and safety of the people who are here, that’s the most important thing.”
Fans and friends of the bar and Deep Ellum have voiced their support for Double Wide. Some people have said that it’s a first amendment matter and that people should be able to wear whatever they want to express themselves. Several patrons organized a “Wear Whatever You Want” event in solidarity with the bar, which took place last Friday and saw a number of customers show up in full-on costume.
“The response from friends and customers has been super heartwarming,” Finch says. “It reminds me just how much of a community Deep Ellum is.”