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Williamsburg Venue Cancels Festival Critics Say is Linked to Neo-Nazism

By  Gwynne Hogan and Allegra Hobbs | May 30, 2016 1:37pm 

 Black Bear Bar canceled the second day of
Black Bear Bar canceled the second day of "Oi Fest" amidst upheaval on social media.
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Oi Fest

WILLIAMSBURG — A punk festival with a lineup of self-proclaimed skinheads that critics said were aligned with Neo-Nazism was canceled over the holiday weekend, and forced to relocate to the Lower East Side.

Black Bear Bar, a Williamsburg venue on North 6th Street, called off the second day of "Oi Fest" on Sunday, a two day event featuring bands like Close Shave, who boast of being skinheads, and Oxblood, whose Facebook page is a string of hateful posts about Muslims.

"Black Bear Bar, New Island Music, its associates and affiliates neither endorse nor condone any form of fascism, Nazism, racism hate or intolerance," a post to their Facebook page reads. "To avoid any further confusion as to Black Bear Bar's stance in this regard, tonight's show is cancelled."

And while Black Bear Bar, which didn't respond to a request for additional comment, claimed their venue doesn't condone fascism, twitter users noted that it's logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the Schutzstaffel flag associated with Hitler and the National Socialist German Worker's Party.

Southern Poverty Law Center had warned of the upcoming event and New York Antifascist Network encouraged it's readers to bombard Black Bear Bar with emails, phone calls and tweets in protest of the event.

After Sunday's cancelation, the second day of "Oi Fest" was held at Santos Party House in the Lower East Side, which has hosted the event in the past. 

The venue's manager defended the decision to host the festival, claiming ignorance of any Neo Nazi affiliation and claiming festival attendees have always been on their best behavior.

"I do tons of parties here," said Sean Kane. "I don't sit here and do a background check on people. I don't know what these peoples' religious beliefs are or what their affiliations are...as long as they don't display aggression towards people in my venue I'm not going to have an issue here."

Kane went on to say he does not support any hate groups and is against discrimination of any kind.

Event attendees denied any Neo Nazi affiliation, claiming that conflating the punk genre of "Oi" with racism and hate is a "huge misconcpetion."

"Just because you're a skinhead doesn't mean you're a Neo Nazi," said one attendee, who declined to give his name.

Activist group NYC Antifascist Action posted a video to YouTube that includes concert footage it claims was taken at the first night of "Oi Fest" which shows attendees displaying the Nazi salute.