by Photo by Fanny Miller

Just before the start of their Vinos y Boleros live music night on Dec.1, a man identified as 68-year-old Howard Freelove harassed Brew Bar unprovoked at approximately 7:30 P.M., and the establishment’s owner, Alex McDaniel, is pressing charges. 

TikTok user chicadarks recorded and uploaded a video, which went viral with approximately 49,000 likes and over 3,000 comments. Several social media accounts and The Activated Podcast tied Freelove to the attack at the U.S Capitol on Jan.6 and several arrests stemming back to 2016 for unknown charges. 

At the beginning of the video, Freelove is seen pointing, shouting, and slamming on the bar table underneath the inwardly flipped vintage open windows where “Black Lives Matter” are found. Freelove proceeds to walk into the establishment using profane language while shouting, “Kill me now, kill me, I’m white now I’m white!” 

According to McDaniel, Freelove’s demeanor was “aggravated and aggressive” while yelling at patrons and musicians.  

“When people are aggressive like that, I have found that when you engage them and keep them engaged with you, it keeps them distracted from getting into people’s faces. It didn’t work for me,” McDaniel said. “I am grateful for the community that was present for not starting a bar brawl.” 

The musician, Victor Viberos, maintained his composure during the incident. He is trained in Taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. 

“At one point, this person proceeded to scream at my face inches away. As a trained martial artist, I knew that things could go south really fast and what was going through my mind was not to engage unless I was engaged physically,” Viveros said.  

McDaniel says, “You’re in my space right now,” and engages with Freelove in the video. The footage shows Freelove slamming the door on the way out, which resulted in two broken hinges and a bent metal door, costing the establishment up to approximately $500. 

“In that moment of silence, he nodded his head and looked at me, and he says, “you’ll see” or something to that extent which I took as a direct threat,” McDaniel said. 

According to McDaniel, Freelove made inaudible comments and punching gestures upward at the window within the initial interaction. It is believed that Freelove’s actions that night were premeditated and motivated by the BLM  signs painted on the windows. 

While on the phone with police, McDaniel walked down the street with the chef and CEO of Cultivated Greens Preston Burris, Brew Bar’s new business partner for the space, and an employee. Chula Vista Police Officers arrived at the scene and detained Freelove, who received a citation for misdemeanor vandalism.

According to Chula Vista Police Lt. Dan Peak, they will do everything in their power to maintain a safe and inclusive environment for everyone in the community. 

McDaniel said he spent the next day at the courthouse filing for a restraining order against Freelove but was unable to access information that would allow its completion. After reaching out to Councilmember Jill Galvez, representative of District 2, McDaniel was placed in direct contact with Police leadership and filed for an expedited procedure.  

“I’m very proud of these people who are in the elected office in Chula Vista that did take this seriously and those who are trying to help me through the process. I want this to be an example to the community that says we won’t stand for this in Chula Vista. Nobody is going to tolerate this behavior,” McDaniel said. 

McDaniel notes seeing Freelove on two separate occasions nearly a month before Dec.1. Authorities said Freelove harassed local businesses in the past. 

“I want the community to realize that this is a part of our life. We are living in this political environment. It is important to support the community businesses that are standing against this kind of violent interaction between citizens in the county. People who support us for the events that we are putting out are wholesome, family-oriented, and designed specifically for being a place where people can meet new people. I literally designed this space with a phrase in mind, a little bit of something for everyone,” McDaniel said. 

A court hearing for a restraining order against Howard Freelove is scheduled for Dec. 21, and his misdemeanor charge will be heard expected early next year. 


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