Web war over Prime 6! Online petitions reveal racism, fear-mongering, ignorance

Web war over Prime 6! Online petitions reveal racism, fear-mongering, ignorance
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

The debate over a new music venue in Park Slope has devolved into an online petition feud that pits a woman who claims hip-hop is linked to “elevated crime rates” against neighbors who want her to take her intolerance and “move to the Hamptons.”

The first petition emerged just days after neighbors stormed a Community Board 6 meeting to protest the live music bar Prime 6, whose marketing strategy on its social media websites targets the hip-hop and basketball crowd.

The online petition, penned by Park Sloper Jennifer McMillen, calls on the venue to opt for “indie” music rather than hip-hop because, she wrote, a rap crowd could lead to “elevated crime rates” in the “family centric neighborhood.”

About 880 people “signed” the petition, although most made fun of her in the comment section, writing “Go back to Iowa, BEEOTCH” and “Hipster scum!”

Retribution — at least the online kind — was swift, with bloggers slamming her for liberal racism.

“She’s retarded,” wrote F–cked In Park Slope. “I’m embarrassed.”

The next day, a new petition popped up — only this time it targeted McMillen.

The online rant, “Send the Message to Jennifer McMillen to Move to the Hamptons,” mimics her writing tone, declaring — as a clear parody — “Homogeneity will make you feel more safe than diversity!!!” As of Tuesday, 53 people had signed it.

The web war didn’t end there. Kevin Bova, a third petitioner, also made use of the sarcastic exclamation point as he encouraged McMillen to host a hip- hop party in order to open her mind.

“There is a good possibility that we can get Hennessey to sponsor these,” he jokes in print. “Throwing house parties will make you more friends!”

But Bova, a Windsor Terrace resident, wasn’t laughing when this paper spoke to him on Friday.

“It’s pretty damn disgusting what she wrote,” he said, explaining there is already enough tension surrounding gentrification and race in this borough. “I think she owes Brooklyn an apology.”

McMillen isn’t listed in public records, so she could not be reached — but the Prime 6 debate is far from over.

The fight against the bar can be seen, in part, as a proxy battle for the lost war over Atlantic Yards. The venue already sits at a bustling nightlife hub – one that will no-doubt get busier with the arrival of the Brooklyn Nets.

Prime 6 has already won a liquor license, “but there is still time to attach stipulations,” said Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which will take up the issue at an upcoming meeting.

Amid all this back and forth, Prime 6 owner Akiva Ofshtein, a lawyer who briefly managed the former Tavern on the Green, a Manhattan tourist trap, maintains that his restaurant will be a hangout for locals.

“Live acts will be occasional, with acoustic acts and singing — there wont be rock bands or hip-hop,” he said. “It’s a restaurant, so it’s not appropriate for that.”

He claimed that he does not run or oversee the restaurant’s social media sites and that they do not reflect his “intentions” for the eatery.

Instead, he pledged to work with the North Flatbush Avenue Business Improvement District — a merchants group that doesn’t care what type of music is played, provided it’s not loud or late.

“People have come out with arms swinging,” said Sharon Davidson, the group’s director. “But that’s not a good way to welcome someone into the community.”

After a Park Slope opined against hip hop music at the soon-to-open Prime 6 bar, Kevin Bova created his own petition in favor of rap over “indie” music — and posted it on the door of the under-construction venue on Flatbush and Sixth avenues.
Photo by Tom Callan