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September 18, 2007

Last night's Midnight Sun protest

The protest at the Sly Fox Pub over some comments I made a while back went well last night, according to organizer Dennis E. Robinson.

About 25 protesters rolled into the Redskins bar wearing Ravens jerseys and cheering for the Eagles during the game, Robinson wrote in an e-mail this morning.

"We acted with sincerity in trying to prove that we're not trash, we're not rowdy, and that we just want to be recognized as valued members of the community, not some subclass of people who aren't worthy to enter the bar," he wrote. 

According to Robinson, the staff was friendly and inviting, but the Redskins fans were just the opposite.

"It went beyond the colorful profanities they yelled, beyond the loud cheers directed at us, sometimes a couple inches from our faces, when the Redskins scored," he wrote. "No, Sam, this was much more."

Click on the link below for more ...

According to Robinson, one of the protesters had beer poured down her back, another was pushed toward the door, and some rather nasty things were said.

If that's true, than it sounds like the patrons acted unacceptably immature. Either way, Robinson felt he benefited from the whole ordeal.

"I guess I should thank you," he wrote. "I learned a lot here. I'm motivated, and I think I'm learning how to positively motivate people. You contributed to that, though you did so adversely. So thanks."

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:11 AM | | Comments (26)
Categories: Bars & Clubs


I eagerly entered Sly Fox with the love of the city I was born and raised in and a sense of civic duty that motored my legs to pass through herds of burgandy and gold that filled the bar.

Simply standing in a bar where we were not welcomed with 25 of my friends, neighbors, schoolmates, and girlfriend simply wasn't enough. As the comments and insults came down like Jason Campbell's QB rating, part of me wanted to jump up on the bar and scream from the top of my lungs. "Who do you people think built this beautiful city that you have the privilege of calling your home? The same group that was so erroneously described by Mr. Sessa as a "fierce crowd" are the same people whose parent's and grandparents were mason's, carpenters, politicians, crossing guards, teachers, nurses, and established South Baltimore/Federal Hill/Locust Point as the only place in Baltimore where you can walk down the street and not get your Chris Cooley jersey ripped off your back ... The protesters included business owners, military personnel, people with Masters Degrees, mothers, etc.

The message we were trying to prove by our impromptu gathering at Slyfox had nothing to do with a football team or a color of a jersey. It had to do with exploiting the ignorance of a subculture of transplanted and arrogant yuppies that choose to spit in the faces of the people that built their community.

It was very evident last night who the classless people were. They certainly were not wearing purple. We took our abuse, but not because we had to, because we chose to. Please know that we could have rounded up some of the fiercest individuals South Baltimore has to offer. People whose SAT scores were higher because they didn't even show up for the test.

In summation I will simply state, "you are welcome." You are welcome to live in this neighborhood and feel safe. You are welcome to open a bar and patronize a bar that appeals to a base of people who are falsely elitist. But Sly Foxers please remember, this is OUR neighborhood, and we too will ALWAYS BE WELCOME. Whether you like it or not.

i could be wrong, but i dont think any unwelcomeness has to do with claiming anyone is low class/ uneducated/ etc. when ppl drink and watch football, they like to cheer for their team, and not cheer for the rival team (and anyone representing them). its as simple as that.

quite honestly, creager you kind of sound elitist yourself when you talk about your masters degrees and high SAT scores.

cant we all just have a drink and get a long? *clink*

You missed the whole point of this which was the post by Sam Sessa and a comment from the owner of Sly Fox. Go back and read the previous threads and reformulate your opinion.

I do not have a Master's Degree, I was simply stating in that sentence that the South Baltimore natives represented in the protest were not trashy, but quite the contrary. Sadly, they don't hand out Master's Degrees for common sense.

We were in a public drinking establishment having a few beers and cheering for the Eagles. Not cheering against anyone or anything. Go Ravens!!!

I guess I miss the point of this as well. You said that your message has "nothing to do with a football team or a color of a jersey," yet you entered the Redskins bar wearing the jerseys of a rival team while cheering on another rival team. The only ignorance you exploited was your own. Your intent was to provoke the patrons of Sly Fox so I think you probably got what you deserved.

I disagree with Curtis on both points. The jerseys seem like they were just a symbol for the people from that neighborhood to rally around. Granted you probably should have wore a t-shirt that said so or something. It also seems like the real intent was as Dennis said- "trying to prove that they're not trashy".

Seems to me that, by not acting like the Redskins fans did, they did so. If they wanted to provoke, they could've said horrible stuff about the skins. I don't know if they did or not, but it seems like they didn't.

By the way, Curtis, which ignorance did the South Baltimore people exploit? I live in other parts now and have for three years, but from what I remember, it's the yuppies who are ignorant of local traditions. Like the fact that the neighborhood was never called 'Federal Hill'. My family built that that neighborhood. All the yuppies did was gut the houses and put roof decks up top. It's alright though.

Soon those young pretty people will be old and have children and be darned if they send those kids to Baltimore City public schools.They'll all be back in the 'burbs soon enough. So curtis, call me when your subprime lender balks on you because you bought a ROWHOME for $300,000 and you've got to move to Prince George's. That actually might be a good thing for you people as you'll be closer to Landover and can watch your games from down there.

"I guess I miss the point of this as well"

~Yes, yes you did.

Seems everyone might need to grow up a bit, and remember that these teams, are in fact only football teams....

I do love the anger from the "locals" directed at the "yuppies". You guys want to drive even more tax-paying, law-abiding residents out of an already shrinking city? Geez, I hate yuppies as much as the next guy, but I think the city has a few bigger problems than annoying young professionals who dump wads of cash into the local economy......

And just what "public bar" were you in? last time I checked, we don't have any "public", state-run bars....Just private businesses....

The Redskins really aren't as much rivals as say the Steelers. Yet when I am in town I'll go to Hogan's Alley, a Steelers bar. I'll talk with Steelers fans, and UPITT fans. I'm go to school at West Virginia University, so it's natural rivalry. Never would I get in their face, call their female fans derogatory names, nor throw or dump beer on someone.

I'm a South Baltimore native. I believe the point of this protest wasn't to antagonize Skins fans, but to show those who judge, and do so wrongfully, that we natives aren't all thugs or 'trash.'

And Curtis, people that are going to bars obviously should be at least 21, adults correct? Therefore they should be able to carry on like adults regardless of provocation from Ravens' fans or anti-Skins' fans. They're professionals, they aren't in college anymore. We proved we were not the trash, that is the point, sir.

the initial blog did not make any generalizations about all baltimore natives. but the truth is, there ARE trashy south baltimore natives, just as there are trash non-natives, just as there are trashy people EVERYWHERE. and its not unlikely that several of them were in sky box at once, and unwelcoming towards others.

to anyone who takes offense- its time to realize that everything is NOT about you. and yes, while no one should have poured beer on anyone, that just again proves that there are trashy people that exist. i dont think anyone needed to plan a protest to prove that point.


Please look up the definition of may help. No apology neccessary though. It's just one of those words that has multiple meanings depending on context.

You guys are still kind of missing the point. SkyBox was a bar my friends and I attended frequently. They sponsored our football, softball, and kickball teams.
Most of the people on those teams and that regularly attended that bar were my friends and people that I grew up with.

Some of them may in fact look fierce or thuggish but they cause no trouble and their money spends just the same.
While there are obvious exceptions to every opinion, the owner of SlyFox had no right to make a generalization about the people born and raised in this community.
The fact is that those throwback jerseys cost more than your Lacoste polos.

Maybe it is just the fact that you people don't understand the concept of community. A "three amigos" approach to protect the people that you know would protect you, whether the abuse is physical or verbal. If you talk about one, you talk about all. If you are that [gutsy], then tell the ones you don't want in there to their face when they try to enter. Not through a blanket statement.

Here you go Rob, I did the work for you................

Of, concerning, or affecting the community or the people: the public good.
Maintained for or used by the people or community: a public park.
Capitalized in shares of stock that can be traded on the open market: a public company.
Participated in or attended by the people or community: “Opinions are formed in a process of open discussion and public debate” (Hannah Arendt).
Connected with or acting on behalf of the people, community, or government: public office.
Enrolled in or attending a public school: transit passes for public students.
Open to the knowledge or judgment of all: a public scandal.

Yes it is a privately owned business that is opened to the public. Have you signed up for your SlyFox membership card yet? Have you been invited to enter SlyFox? Oh, thats right, anyone can just walk in. Afterall, it's a "public drinking establishment." Thanks though.

Wow..Talk about missing the point completely, and then constructing an absolute straw man argument.

First, addressing the public point...The owners of SlyFox, or any business have a right to refuse entry and service to whomever they want within reason. Not just anyone can walk in as you put it.

The best example of this would be the classic "No shirts, no shoes, no service" signs..... When you enter a private business, you are entering into a contract of service based upon mutually agreed terms with the owner of said business. You don't like them, you don't have to enter. This is where the intellectual argument against smoking bans stems from....

SlyFox, or pretty much any bar in the world is a privately held company. A public company would be AT&T, Motorola, Samsung…Those are public companies. Sly Fox isn’t a “public” company, in the business sense of the word or in government subsidized definition of the word. Big difference. Let me know when you can buy shares of SlyFox, and then I'll retract my statement about it being a private business.

But you still didn't address my larger point. Why the anger directed at productive citizens? You don't have to be buddies with them, but what's the alternative if they left the neighborhood? Have you looked around your city recently? People are leaving in droves, and that doesn't help out anyone, esp. people who want baltimore to stop it's downward spiral....I still don't get it....

Within reason..aka...not violating any of your basic Consitutional rights. None of which cover acting like an [idiot] in a bar. And I don't care where you are from originally, I'm speaking in general terms.

All I'm taking home from this discussion is that whoever planned this "protest" is clearly not trashy, just annoying and whiny as hell.

Man, I've been weighing this issue in my head for a few days now, that of whether to respond to these posts or not. I told Sam Sessa we were done; we made our point, and I had no intention of continuing with the matter.

But I see Pete up here battling all by his lonesome, doing a good job of it and still not getting his point across. So I'll say this, and only this, and then I'm dropping it and moving onto the next social disjunction which [irks me].

Oh, and on that real quick, Rob: I can tell you like to analyze words, and you're probably thinking, "Disjunction? That's not right." If we can all accept the fact that we as citizens of Baltimore our joined together through a common desire for social good, and that those desires, or at least the ends with which to achieve them, are disconnected, then yeah, we're disjointed. Thought I'd save you the argument on that one.

Here's the thing: we perceived a minor social injustice. I don't care how minor you think it is, enough people found the issue to be relevant enough to raise a complaint, thus the protest. I asked Sam to apologize, he didn't. I asked the owner of the Sly Fox to apologize, he didn't until later, so we protested. Simple as that. And it worked. Why? We proved a valid point.

Perception in this case wasn't reality. As alienated as Sam felt, the "trashy" kids from South Baltimore committed no action to induce that feeling. On the other hand, the high-brow clientele of Sly Fox, which is supposedly not "that crowd" (look up the article) proved themselves to be the true "trashy" ones. That's it. That's all it boils down to.

I organized the protest. Am I whiny? Maybe. Probably. It's your call. I will say though that I love how the term "whiny" is tossed around anytime someone raises an issue that bothers them. ... It makes me feel good to know that I'm overwhelmed with the pride of where I came from, because it made me the person I am today. And I've got it good, man.

That neighborhood made me who I am: a two-time war veteran, college graduate and generally upstanding citizen. I'll never be able to repay the people of South Baltimore for all the opportunities they gave me.

You sit behind your computer and type snarky comments about the rising crime rate in Baltimore City, the rising taxes, the inadequacy of civil services. Yet when someone actually puts boots to the ground and TAKES ACTION, they're the whiny ones. Classic, man. Well, tough guy, have fun sitting at your laptop and [yelling] about the problems. I'm going to keep busting my [butt] to try to fix them, no matter how minor. Catch you at the next Citizens on Patrol Walk. Or maybe I'll see you at one of the city-wide community meetings. How about we get together for a community clean-up? No? Alright then, we'll just whine back and forth at each other on this blog until we get the problems solved from behind the screen.

Last thing: Rob, don't start breaking down arguments with terms like "straw man." I'm glad you completed your mandatory Philosophy 101 class on your way to your bachelor's in Finance or whatever. But dude, you completely deviated in your definition of "public" when you start talking about company stock. Come on, bro. If you want, I'll dig up some Maryland case law for you and we'll discuss the definition of "public" right after a round of $10 French beer at your friendly neighborhood Redskins bar. I reference the case law, because I'm assuming, Rob, you're a lawyer. Right, Rob? I mean, the dissertation on the "public" thing was brilliant. If you're not a lawyer, then bro, you've got the aptitude. Arguments and everything. I'd like to refer you to the UM Law school. The education I'm getting here in LAW is great. Stop by, I'll hook you up with admissions.

I got bitter here. I'm sorry. But to Pete, and the other supporters, we're debating the issue with people that don't get it and aren't going to get it. It's a waste of time. It's done and over with. Let's move on and let them save the city from their laptops.

Thanks again to everybody for the support. Peace.

you all should listen to dennis. he goes to law school. that makes him really smart.

first of all, this is a BLOG. not a narrative. look it up.

second of all, dennis if you are in law school, you should realize the importance of your writing. maybe sam sessa came off as judgemental, but you are the one who seems like a self-righteous 'i'm better than you' know it all. being a war veteran and college graduate are wonderful accomplishments; they dont make you god of the world.

i'm not sure who the "you" is you are talking to up there, or the "tough guy" but you are making a pretty harsh generalization about, well, i guess everyone who isnt you.

maybe we should organize a protest against the law school? just a thought.

Anonymous, either of pick the most minute, little, non-important part of Dennis's response and weigh in on that. God of the world? I'm sorry. I don't see it. Trying to make his neighborhood better; get the 'thuggish, rough, trashy' image out of it and therefore possibly reducing the negative image on Baltimore is what I perceieve.

He's right though, fight behind your laptops. Don't look at the main points behind any action, but scrutinize his credibility. I'm sure we all wish we were back at Hopkins, or UVA, or UMD playing hake-sack in the quad, but real life hits, and it's not just a damn job. I could go on about you people making the neighborhood better or worse, it's a push and pull. Granted there is less crime with yuppies, but there is NOT the feeling of a neighborhood, yet sectionalism. Maybe try picking up the litter out front of your house rather than having senior citizens do it, maybe then you will feel some sort of pride that Dennis does about his hometown.

Rob, you are truly a piece of work. This is my last post. I love how you take an entire stream of social conscience blurb and say, "bro, that homonym selection was poor." Why bother, you are contributing nothing to this forum. Replace the word public with community. That was the meaning. Private and public organizations have the right to refuse service to anyone that doesn't meet certain criteria. Why don't you ask Mr. Fox if he would like to exclude all South Baltimore resident's from entering his "private drinking establishment." Grand opening, Grand Closing!

Rob, I have looked around my city. I was an AE at a lender that sold all of these Yuppies 3 year interest only LIBOR ARM's so they could afford their 400,000 dollar rowhomes. Please look at figures before you speak, Baltimore is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, particularly South Baltimore. The only reason any yuppies are leaving this city is because they can't afford the interest on their loan anymore, forget about a principle payment. I'm done, if you had any insight or raised any valid points I would love to continue this verbal sparring. If you want I can gather up Pony-boy and Soda-pop, and you can email Carter and Nevin, and we can have an old fashioned donnybrook.


Brilliant move. Ad hominem attacks will always make people more sympthetic to your cause. Best way to bring people over to your side. But you don't really care about that right? Grow up man.

I'm not a Redskins fan, I live in West Baltimore in a completley untrendy neighborhood that actually has real problems. No one in my area cares about you and your great bar that you lost to yuppies. Get over yourself. It's called gentrification. It's a good thing, not a bad thing. Is it perfect? No, but nothing is. I mean, you have a college degree and are working towards a law degree, so I can use words like gentrification, right?

I never have to been to SlyFox, could care less about the place or what the owner said. I'm tired of dealing with locals like yourself that cop an attitude with anyone under 30, who has a job and isn't originally from here.

Rob, been in a PUB lately? Lovely state-run facilities aren't they

What a joke. How many links do you want documenting a declining city population? Or how about job loss? Or what about that tax base? I mean you can't be serious...One of the fastest growing cities in the nation? When I said look around, I meant it figuratively, not literally. I didn't expect you to look around and see big cranes and say ,"Geez what that guy on that blog talking about. I see them putting up buildings and condos." That's the problem. You kinda need people to fill those buildings. People are what Baltimore has been missing for oh, about 50 years now.

From 2001---column on Baltimore's steep decline in the '90s--

An Examiner article from July '07 on the '06 population loss. Some 5,000 residents about 300 a month. The 3rd largest in the nation.

An Institute for Justice economic report on Baltimore From which I quote:
Baltimore is a city-to use a popular catch phrase of urban planners-"in transition." Many of Baltimore's once mighty industries are gone. The city itself has struggled with unemployment and a declining population. More than 21 percent of city residents live below the poverty line, while 16.4 percent of the population receives some type of public assistance. An astounding 46.1 percent of Baltimore households are headed by one parent, the fifth highest ranking among American cities.1

Total population loss since 2000 is somewhere in the area of 20,000.

Are you also going to try and tell me that crime is down in Baltimore too? That would be a fun one.

Rob, the problems are serious. But what are you doing to help solve the problems?

I agree that the protest was trivial when compared to other social ills but I've met Dennis once and saw him at all kinds of functions after that, including a city meeting about the housing issue.

I think he just did the protest as a way of getting some pride back for that neighborhood, or maybe he was goofing off, I don't know. Either way, he's got a point when he says you people try to solve problems from behind a computer. But if you're actively involved, I apologize. I'm just asking because I'm curious...

"I never have to been to SlyFox, could care less about the place or what the owner said. I'm tired of dealing with locals like yourself that cop an attitude with anyone under 30, who has a job and isn't originally from here."

Then get the [heck] of the blog, Rob? Honestly, what are you contributing other than negativity? You're being a pompous [jerk], talking about slumming it in West Baltimore. Good for you. Maybe get off your [darn] computer and try to clean up that neighborhood. I'm trying to help from 200 some miles away, the only way I can, on a computer. If I was in the city able to do things hands on, I'd be drooling over it. It's not just about a bar.

So either contribute something worthwhile ... to this blog or seriously stay the [heck] off. No BIG words in that, so I'm guessing you won't be able to respond.

In the quiet words of the virgin Mary, "Come again?"

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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