Two ACLU lawyers are speaking out against a California bar they claim kicked them out earlier this month because they are both Black.
According the ACLU’s blog, the discrimination took place on March 12 where Abre’ Conner and Novella Coleman came to sing karaoke with friends. Soon after they arrived, the bartender told them that if they wanted to sing and stay, they needed to buy a drink first.
The women said that two people in their party had already bought drinks, but the staff insisted that they needed to buy something or leave. They looked around and noticed that they were the only African-Americans in the establishment–and the only ones being treated this way–they pointed out that other people weren’t drinking and were still allowed to stay. However, the staff didn’t seem to care. “There were other people who didn’t have drinks, and we pointed them out to them,” Conner told The Huffington Post. “Their response was that they can’t keep an eye on everybody.”
Soon after, a second bartender “shouted louder and louder that we were loitering and that the bar wasn’t a hangout place. Over and over again he pushed his body up against Abre’ — who is just 5’4” tall — to force her out of the bar.” After Abre told them to stop touching her, the bartender called the police.
According to Conner and Novella, the police officer came to the scene defending Brigg’s no-loitering rule and asked the women to leave even after they explained that the rule wasn’t being enforced on anyone else expect the two Black patrons. This sparked a staff member to yell across the room, “It’s not fair for you to bring up race!”
Which the women wrote, “Of course it’s fair to bring up race. Let’s recap. Four white employees at a bar in Fresno called the police to kick out two Black women (who happen to be ACLU attorneys) and who appeared to be the only Black people there.”
Meanwhile, bar manager Heidi Wilson told the Huffington Post that Coleman and Novella’s racial discriminations allegations are “absolutely false. “It’s not a racial thing whatsoever; that is 100 percent false. It’s because they were loitering and didn’t purchase anything. They refused to leave and the police were on our side and escorted them out” she said.
Wilson added that the Brigg encourages diversity. “Might I say that we have so much different culture in here, and we absolutely love it. Everybody has such a wonderful time.”
Coleman and Novella are still deciding whether to sue the bar as they are “exploring” their options, The Huff Po noted.