Outside the entrance to 56 Brewing in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Outside the entrance to 56 Brewing in Minneapolis, Minnesota

CEO of 56 Brewing Resigns for Racist Noose Joke

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Kale Johnson, the founding owner of 56 Brewing, announced on Thursday he has resigned from his role as CEO.

“I do not take this action lightly as I love 56 Brewing and I am so proud of what we’ve collectively created over the years,” Johnson wrote in a post on the brewery’s Facebook page. “However, it is apparent that my continued presence at the company is creating a negative impact to the company that I love. I understand now that recent and past events have caused people that I care about hurt and pain and for that I am truly sorry.”

Johnson’s resignation only addressed his role as CEO and didn’t mention whether or not he’ll remain a co-owner of 56 Brewing.

The social media post is Johnson’s latest attempt to apologize for his racist treatment of a black former employee. That employee, Mahad Muhammad, went on the record with industry mag, Growler, in a story published on Wednesday, where he filled in the details on a disturbing joke Johnson that was made at his expense.

Muhammad says Johnson had fashioned a rope into a knot that looked like a noose, and said to Muhammad, “Come here, boy,” in a rather obvious allusion to lynching him.

A second witness confirmed Muhammad’s memory of the event.

Muhammad left 56 Brewing soon after, and wrote of the racist taunting in a resignation letter in 2018; Johnson wrote earlier this week he hadn’t read the letter until now.

On Instagram this week, Muhammad rejected Johnson’s description of his joke as a “construed injustice,” and said the noose episode was “one of the lowest moments in my life, and I’m back reliving it.”

Muhammad added: “I appreciate the support and love wholeheartedly!”

In the wake of the Johnson’s resignation, 56 Brewing posted its support for the Black Lives Matter movement: “In no uncertain terms: Black Lives Matter; and being antiracist is not an option, it’s a requirement. We will work tirelessly with our actions to live up to these words and ideals (and everything they mean) and we are so very sorry that we have failed thus far,” the brewery posted on their Facebook page.

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