CLEVELAND, Ohio — Fans of social media stars Alissa Violet and Ricky “FaZe” Banks have waged war on downtown Cleveland bar Barley House after a scuffle over Thanksgiving weekend.
The two celebrities have their version of what went down. Barley House has a decidedly different take.
Violet and Banks have millions of followers on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Snapchat, and they regularly post vlogs and share their daily lives with their fans, who call themselves members of the “Cloutgang.”
Violet and Banks are a couple and were in Cleveland to visit Violet’s family for Thanksgiving. On Saturday night, they spent a night out at Barley House. When they left the bar on Sunday morning, Violet had a black eye and a split lip, and Banks had a broken finger.
Banks said on his Snapchat and Instagram Story that a Barley House bouncer was aggressive with him when he tried to wait outside the restroom for Violet. He said a group of bouncers choked him while removing him from the bar, and that earlier in the night a bouncer had assaulted Violet.
Later, Violet said that two women attacked her outside of the bar, causing a bloody lip and a black eye. The women were not employees of the bar. Violet subsequently shared photos of the women on her Twitter account, asking her followers to help identify them.
We reached out to Violet and Banks on their social media accounts with request for comment but they did not respond.
However, Barley House has a different story. Corey May, a managing partner at Barley House, said that security footage taken during three incidents involving Violet and Banks shows that bouncers were not aggressive with the couple.
May said that the restroom area Violet was using is a private space, and that a bouncer asked Banks to wait for her upstairs. When Banks interacted with a security guard outside of the restroom, he appeared visibly agitated in the video footage and the bouncers tried to restrain him and bring him back upstairs, May said.
May said that once Violet and Banks were outside of the bar, they were intoxicated and shouted obscenities, taking videos for their social-media channels. After Violet appeared to instigate conflict by taking a close-up video of two patrons, she and two women started fighting, May said. Banks joined in to punch a man in the back of his head, May said.
Video of the incidents will not be available until later this week, when Barley House shares it on its social media channels. Currently, it has been shared with WKYC and Channel 19 News for on-air segments.
The conflict has two sides, but a vast majority of the “Cloutgang” sides with Violet and Banks and believe they have been assaulted by the bar. The followers have hacked and deactivated the Barley House website and left hundreds of negative reviews for Barley House online.
Currently, Barley House has a 1.3/5 star rating on Google, 1.5/5 star rating on Facebook and a 1.5/5 star rating on Yelp. Yelp is currently reviewing the situation and will remove spam reviews soon, according to a disclaimer on the bar’s page.
Barley House has set its Twitter and Instagram accounts to private because of hundreds of messages that included death threats, May said. Additionally, aggressive followers have been calling the restaurant nonstop since Sunday.
“Just to give you an idea, we’ve had 470 voicemails in the last day,” said Joe Oravec, a managing partner at the bar.
“Our phone hasn’t stopped ringing for the past 36 hours, so we had to take it off the hook,” said May. “They’re telling us they’re going to kill us, to kill ourselves. Every nasty thing in the book.”
Though the fans claimed they would protest outside of the bar on Sunday, no such protest ever took place and business hasn’t suffered outside of the online and phone harassment, May said.
“Our local community is greatly supportive of our situation just because of our reputation and knowing all the good things we do.” May said. “All these people that are attacking us are not even from the state. I don’t even know if there’s one local person who reached out, to be honest. Nobody knew who [Violet and Banks] were.”
Yet, the online harassment has shifted from the bar to employees who weren’t involved in the incident. This includes Dana Mack, a bartender who was at home this past weekend.
When she woke up on Sunday morning, Mack saw thousands of comments and messages flooding through her Instagram account; she received over 6,000 comments on an Instagram photo posted after the incident. The social celebrities’ followers believed that Mack was one of the women who attacked Violet.
On Sunday morning, Mack read through hundreds of death threats and messages where people told her to kill herself. “They also threatened to kill my dog,” said Mack.
Mack messaged Violet to ask her to clear her name, and Violet responded privately with an apology on behalf of her fans, Mack said.
Mack shared the exchange on her Instagram Story and the harassment died down, but never fully dissipated.
Other employees and patrons have received similar threats and messages on social media from the “Cloutgang.” One person, Steven Donaldson, Jr., is a regular at the bar but was at home on Saturday night. However, he woke up on Sunday morning to threatening messages which mistook him for a man who the couple claimed attacked them.
He posted a statement on a public Google Doc, which states: “I know that it is not in any of [the staff’s] nature to be violent or engage in violence whatsoever. I have seen incidents where the situation warranted for physical removal of patrons from the bar, and the security staff ALWAYS performed their duties in the most professional ways possible.”
However, in the tweets that followed the incident, Banks shared Yelp reviews that revealed aggressive bartender and bouncer behavior in past years. Some of the Yelp comments told stories of bartenders shoving people around aggressively, unnecessary physical removal from the bar and letting in underage customers.
When asked about past situations at Barley House, May said that the bar would always review any problems internally.
“There are fights here at night and you have to be aggressive to break people apart and sometimes you get accused of things, of course,” he said. “People are drunk and we’re sober. We have security systems in place and if we’re ever in the wrong, we would address those situations with those employees.”
Mack said that her experience working at Barley House has been a positive one. “Barley House is an extremely close group. We consider each other family,” she said. “I will stick by those people no matter what. I have received a lot of support from them during this.”
Barley House plans to re-open its social media pages and share video of the incidents later this week. This story will be updated once the video is made available.
(c)2017 Advance Ohio Media, Cleveland
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