Restaurant Accused of Serving Nazis After Free Speech Rally Fights Back

After serving a group of patrons who had come from a free speech rally, a Boston restaurant said it faced a week of online harassment and phone calls claiming it had supported Nazis.

The Green Dragon Tavern held a press conference Friday to state it did not support neo-Nazis.

"We have never and will never tolerate hate, and for it to be portrayed that we do is just disgusting," co-owner Noelle Somers said at the media event. "It's been a very painful week to me, getting this onslaught of emails and calling us Nazis."

Part of the online campaign against the restaurant included being bombarded by negative Yelp reviews. The Yelp page for the restaurant Monday showed an "active cleanup alert" warning stating that the online review site was monitoring the page.

On Yelp reviewer appeared to exaggerate an incident that happened at the Green Dragon Tavern in Boston. Yelp

"When local businesses make the news or do something controversial, their Yelp business page can be affected. Many people come to Yelp to share their views about the news. Media-fueled reviews typically violate our Content Guidelines, one of which deals with relevance," Yelp told Newsweek in a statement.

Yelp said that the cleanup would remain active until the site's traffic returned to normal.

The online campaign started after a group of patrons who had come from a free speech rally last week stopped by the tavern for lunch. They were followed by a group of protesters who demanded the patrons be kicked out, Somers told WFXT-TV.

Somers said that people in the establishment did not voice their concern, as it was not clear that the group was out of the ordinary in any way.

"The group was quiet, nondescript. They weren't wearing anything to show hate or anything of that nature," Somers told the news station.

Surveillance footage of the restaurant provided to local media showed a manager spoke to the patrons to make sure they weren't promoting hate or threatening people in the restaurant.

One Yelp review, still on the site Monday, appeared to clearly exaggerate the incident.

"I was there and a group of about 20 idiots openly wearing swastikas and other white supremacist symbols walked in. They were purposely intimidating other patrons even after management was informed several times and they did NOTHING!!" the Yelp review read.

The Somers said they have been dismayed by the online rhetoric in a statement to Newsweek.

"We have been victimized by a coordinated social media smear campaign that has damaged our family business. Protest groups have falsely accused us of catering to Nazis, which is outrageous and disgusting," the statement read. "We now demand that media platforms such as Yelp, Twitter and Facebook incorporate stricter editorial policies to prevent false information from spreading in the future. We do not want to see another business suffer as ours has suffered."

The Somers also indicated they were frustrated by Yelp's "delayed response and the lack of communication regarding this issue."

The Somers have owned the business for 25 years, according to WBZ.

This story was updated to include a statement from the owners of the Green Dragon Tavern.