Punk Venue Sparks Inclusivity Debate

Patrons of a Northern California venue that has incubated a number of successful punk acts over recent decades are debating whether it should be more restrictive of the acts booked.

For years, management and patrons at  in Berkeley, Calif., have quarreled over whether the club has veered away from the core values written on its walls such as “No racism,” “No drugs,” “No violence,” and “No major labels” and some are now attempting to organize a boycott to drive their point home.

Citing a list of grievances, foremost of which was failure to screen out offensive acts like Guantanamo Dogpile, which performed as imitation Muslim terrorists, and Fang, which performs “Destroy The Handicapped,” an anonymous “Boycott 924 Gilman Street” group was formed on Facebook and Tumblr (the Facebook page has since been deleted).

924 Gilman was a jumping-off point for bands like Green Day

For years, management and patrons at  and Operation Ivy in the ’80s and ’90s and continues to host punk and metal shows.

The volunteer-run, nonprofit venue has been mostly managed as a collective in which members can contribute to decision-making in town hall-style meetings. 

Jesse Michaels, former frontman of Operation Ivy, said there was never any strict adherence to an ideology, even in the venue’s earliest days.

Michaels said portraying a false history in which there was some consensus or moral clarity on what was “punk” or acceptable is misleading.

“We are all aware of what is written on the wall but the argument that Gilman once followed those rules absolutely, or anything close to perfectly, is false,” Michaels said in a statement.