As a young black man and his two friends tried to enter Downtown Bar Sports Bar and Grill in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, the bouncer reportedly stopped him at the door and said, "You need a membership to come in tonight. I've never seen you here before." Jonathan Wall and his friends both found the bouncer's statement confusing because they watched other people enter the bar with no problem.
"The only difference between those people and my friends and I was our race," Wall said. "Still, we stood at the door in bewilderment asking, 'What?' as [the bouncer] further tried to explain that we weren't going to be able to come in because of our 'non-member' status. However, as he was explaining this, a police officer walked up to where he was standing to tell him something unrelated. As soon as he caught sight of the officer beside him, he said 'Never mind, y'all go ahead.'"
Once Wall entered the club, the situation worsened. The bar's manager demanded that he order a drink immediately or leave. He said that he would leave as soon his friend returned from the bathroom. But the manager allegedly kept harassing Wall before forcibly dragging him out of the club. When Wall tried to press charges, the authorities dissuaded him. Then he shared his story on social networking sites which resulted in a number of locals stepping forward to say they'd witnessed or experienced discrimination at the same establishment. Here's what they said:
"I have experienced being turned away by the membership tactic. (I am black). Right after I was turned away three girls (all white) came up and went right in."
"As a white female, I visited downtown sports a year ago and witnessed the EXACT same thing. I was horrified, tried talking to the bouncer (who didn't want to hear a word from me) and was pushed back into a crowded room. I have never been back."
"The same thing happened to me and my friends at Downtown Sports Bar! My two friends and I, all of us white, got in no problem. However my boyfriend and his friend, both black, were turned away for not having on collared shirts. After they were denied entry, we stood outside and witnessed 5 white males being let in that had on regular t-shirts just like my friends did!!!"
Patrons of the bar not only recounted these discriminatory experiences online but have now started a Facebook group that is 3,000 members strong to have the bar shut down for violating civil rights laws. A protest is scheduled to take place at the bar tomorrow and the local media is investigating the claims of discrimination.
Let this serve as a lesson for businesses not to discriminate on the basis of race (which the Federal Civil Rights Act prohibits) and to victims of discrimination not to keep quiet when they encounter bias but to take action!