You haven’t lived until you’ve been barred from entering an establishment because of its decidedly anti-black dress code. But instead of suffering in silence, one would-be patron of a Portland, Ore., bar opted to clap back with a lawsuit.
From Oregon Live:
An African American man has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against one of the owners of a Pearl District bar, claiming he was prevented from stepping foot inside because he was wearing “too many” chain necklaces.
Ray Lamont Peterson, 34, claims that was just a pretext for keeping the bar predominantly white.
Peterson’s lawsuit claims that Chris Lenahan, one of the owners of Splash Bar, would use a radio to tell security staff to start “arbitrarily enforcing a dress code against African Americans” when he thought the composition of customers was getting “too dark” at any given time. The suit claims that Lenahan referred to black patrons by using racist terms.
This incident in question occurred in August 2018.
Peterson’s lawsuit has merit, considering Lenahan recently reached an undisclosed settlement with another black man, Sam Thompson, for a similar incident at another one of Lenahan’s properties, which occurred in May 2017. In that instance, however, Thompson was prohibited from entering due to his attire being mistaken for gang affiliation.
“In Portland, there’s not a lot of overt racism—it’s not a city where you run around and you get called the n-word,” Thompson told Oregon Live. “It’s more a place where systems and policies are in place that create that divide.”
Adding further credence to Peterson’s claims are the eye-opening depositions that former employees of Lenahan provided in Thompson’s lawsuit. These include Lenahan instructing security staff to raise the cover charge for specific individuals or groups, mandating that the composition of the club should never exceed 30 percent black because “we don’t want it to get too dark,” and Lenahan telling a bartender to “get these niggers out of here” over a club’s radio system.
With an unsurprising, if not Trump-ian, level of hubris, Lenahan responded to the lawsuit exactly as you’d expect him to. During a phone call with Oregon Live, he dismissed the lawsuit as “ridiculous,” boasted that he and his business partners manage “the most diverse clubs” with “the most diverse clientele,” and asserted that he’s never referred to any black customers with any of the racist epithets listed in the lawsuit.
Let us hope and pray that should Peterson win this lawsuit that he buys some additional celebratory chains.