The C.E.O. and co-founder of a popular brewery in Brooklyn came under fire this week for describing coronavirus vaccine mandates as a “crime against humanity” and drawing comparisons to the Jim Crow South and Nazi Germany.
In a series of tweets and an interview with Patch, Josh Stylman, who co-founded Threes Brewing, defended his opposition to the mandates, including a requirement in New York City that all bars and restaurants ask customers for proof of full vaccination.
“If you are not speaking out against them, you are a conspirator,” Mr. Stylman said in a tweet about the mandates. “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Yours just happens to be unscientific, immoral, and evil.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and science and health experts note that unvaccinated people are more likely to contract the coronavirus, making them more likely to spread it. And while vaccinated people can spread the virus as well, vaccination is key in mitigating the seriousness of the illness once contracted.
Mr. Stylman’s comments led to a wave of backlash on social media, with some customers saying that they would no longer visit Threes or buy its beer.
Mr. Stylman said in an interview with The Times that he had felt compelled to publicly air his feelings because he sees abiding by the mandates as enabling “biomedical segregation.” He described having to turn away patrons who did not provide proof of vaccination, and referred to the experience as “discrimination.”
“I guess I acted out and wanted to share a point of view publicly to try to preserve any level of personal integrity or humanity,” he said.
On Thursday evening, employees at Threes Brewing released a joint statement on social media condemning Mr. Stylman’s comments, saying that they would continue to comply with all government mandates. Employees highlighted the stringent masking and social distancing measures they had taken, adding that they had refused to reopen until all workers had the chance to get vaccinated.
“We do not stand by our CEO Joshua Stylman’s comparisons of the mandate to historic atrocities based on religion or race,” employees said in the statement. “We think the comparisons are inappropriate and inaccurate.”
“We care about our community, our partners, our staff and our environment. That hasn’t and won’t change,” they added.
Threes Brewing has locations in the Gowanus and Greenpoint neighborhoods of Brooklyn, on Governors Island and in Huntington, N.Y.
Mr. Stylman told The Times that he is vaccinated and that he does not oppose vaccines on principle.
“My position bluntly is, how do we tell another person to put something in their body or not be able to earn a living for their family,” he said.
“I think it’s unfortunate if people that work here, who don’t even share my point of view, have to have a consequence for an action that wasn’t theirs,” he added.
The tweets this week weren’t Mr. Stylman’s first public statements on the matter. Earlier this month he drew a line between requiring customers to prove they’d been vaccinated to gain entry to indoor spaces and Nazi Germany and segregation in the Jim Crow South.
Lincoln Restler, a City Council member from Brooklyn, said that he had planned on hosting an event at Threes, but that after Mr. Stylman’s comments, he would choose a different venue. Though he has celebrated many special occasions at the brewery, Mr. Restler said he felt it was necessary to call out blatant misinformation.
“I’m deeply disappointed that the co-owner and managing partner would spread lies and wildly inaccurate information that undermined the health of our community,” Mr. Restler said. “Vaccines save lives.”
Andrew Gerber, 44, of Carroll Gardens, said that he was a fan of Threes’s beer and the atmosphere at the brewery, but that he had no plans to return.
“The vaccine mandates are put in place to make sure that we don’t kill each other any more than we already have,” he said. “To compare them to Nazi Germany and Jim Crow South is obscene.”
Seth Pollack, 32, of Gowanus said he was a fixture at the location in his neighborhood, with its industrial look and big backyard, for years. He has gone there for birthday parties, dates and even on election night.
“It was a big surprise to me,” he said of Mr. Stylman’s comments. “I don’t think anyone expected this beloved place in Gowanus to be run by someone with views that are so out of line with so much of the community here.”