Longbranch Twittering Blues

Unauthorized Twitter account causes major headache for local bar

Longbranch Inn management would like Austinites to know that those who own and work at the venerable East Austin bar are neither racist, bigoted, nor ethnically insensitive. In fact, the people involved with the dive don’t have any affiliation at all to the social media vehicle that’s drawing it such ire.

Bar owner James Stockbauer’s concern derives from an incident Friday in which a Twitter account assuming the identity of the Longbranch tweeted, “We are all wetbacks,” using a derogatory term applied to Mexican immigrants (who supposedly swam across the Rio Grande to reach America), alongside a number of hashtags referring to Mexico’s misfortunes over a few officiating decisions during their Friday morning World Cup match against Cameroon.

The backlash came swiftly and steadily, with Austinites and local bars and restaurants collectively banding together against the Eleventh Street bar to express their disapproval. The account tried to explain itself – tweeting “We are pro-mexican. Texas is Mexico” – but that proved a lame explanation for some racism, and the firing squad had already assembled.

Meanwhile, at the Longbranch, Stockbauer, his partners, and employees were trying to figure out how to quell the damage reverberating from something they had not actually done.

The Twitter account @LongbranchInn, it turns out, is not managed by any member of the Longbranch Inn staff or executive team, but rather the brother of bar manager Kevin Crutchfield, who told the Chronicle that his brother started the account four years ago “on his own accord and without seeking permission from us.”

The brother, whom neither Crutchfield nor Stockbauer would identify, lives in Brooklyn and has posted an excess of 4,300 tweets from the @LongbranchInn handle, mostly about sports, food, and music. Stockbauer reports a long history of trying to put the nozzle on the rogue account, both by asking Crutchfield’s brother to suspend it and reporting it to Twitter, but he’s never had any luck.

“We don’t run it,” he told the Chronicle on Monday. “We don’t have time to run something like that.”

Stockbauer said Crutchfield spent a good portion of Saturday haranguing his brother into deleting the tweet and offering an apology. Both parties associated with the Longbranch Inn said they’ve requested the brother issue a statement clarifying his affiliation – or lack thereof – with the bar. That much is yet to happen, though the brother has apologized for offending anyone. “I meant no disrespect at all. It was a lame attempt at ‘We are all from somewhere else.’”

On Monday afternoon, after the provoking tweet had been deleted, the brother came back to issue a longer statement: “In closing, my unauthorized use of the Longbranch name on Twitter has hurt people unnecessarily, and for this I apologize. Using a loaded word to try to make a weak point about soccer officiating was reckless. It in no way reflected or reflects an LBI position on race, class, human beings, immigration, or even soccer. Please excuse them. It won’t happen again as the account is no more.”

As of Monday evening, the unauthorized account still existed – although the brother reportedly says he will no longer use it.

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