Rollie's, a bar with Confederate flags and paraphernalia, claims in the lawsuit that the actions of Unitecloud and founder/director Natalie Ringsmuth "intentionally aimed at defaming, harassing, and interfering with Rollie’s business," attempting to paint Rollie's as a racist and homophobic bar by posting on Facebook anonymous testimonials about peoples' experiences at the bar.
The lawsuit says this damaged the bar's reputation and affected its ability to book musical acts.
“If you hold different political or social views than Natalie and her group, they will go after you and not stop until they shut you down,” bar owner Roland Hogrefe said, according to an email news release announcing the lawsuit.
Rollie's had sent a cease and desist demand letter to Unitecloud and Ringsmuth, asking them to take down the statements and testimonials and to refrain from further harassment, the release said.
That apparently didn't happen, so the bar filed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit, which seeks $50,000 in damages, was filed Wednesday in Benton County District Court. BMTN has reached out to Unitecloud and Ringsmuth for comment.
Alexandra Monson, a Minneapolis woman, is also named in the lawsuit, which says she runs a Facebook group called "Crashing Rollie's."
“Natalie and her group are piggybacking on the 'cancel culture' to try and destroy people and businesses they disagree with,” Hogrefe said in the release. “That is wrong and I am willing to take the fight to them, so they can’t do this to other small businesses in our community.”
This lawsuit has put Rollie's back in the headlines. Earlier this month, The St. Cloud Times reports the listing for Rollie's was removed from Visit Greater St. Cloud and Explore Minnesota's tourism websites after Unitecloud voiced its support for community members who protested the bar's Confederate displays.
Meanwhile, in 2011, Hogrefe was convicted of a felony after running down a Black man with his truck in St. Cloud. The Pioneer Press says Hogrefe told police he hit the man in self-defense after shots were fired, but then eventually admitted the shots were fired after he exchanged words, including racial epithets, and hit the pedestrian.