A man is tossed out of a sports bar because he’s black. When the police couldn’t help him, he went to social media and found a whole community of commiseration and support.
Jezebel is recounting the story of a 21 year-old man and his two friends who were discriminated against in a Raleigh, North Carolina bar.
Jezebel offers the really interesting full story of how the night went down, but I will try to give you a quick-and-dirty synopsis.
When Jonathan Wall and his friends arrived at the bar on Saturday night, they were told they needed a membership to enter. After surveying the line of people going in, it was clear this was untrue. It wasn’t until a police officer appeared for something unrelated that Wall and his friends were allowed in.
Once in, Wall was told that he had to order a drink right away or he would be booted from the establishment. His friend was in the bathroom, and he had planned to wait until they were all together to order, but the bar’s manager simply wasn’t having it. Wall agreed, but walked toward the bathroom to find his friend. The manager followed him and threatened to toss him again. Jezebel quotes Jonathan Wall:
I also took notice of how many of the people surrounding the bar and the club area didn’t have drinks in their hands. I felt as if I was singled out. The common denominator, again, was that I was the only black person around. After staring me down for about 30 seconds, he walked back over and said “Are you going to buy a drink, or are you going to leave?” I replied, “As soon as my friend comes from the bathroom.” Before I cold utter another word, he grabbed my right wrist and my left arm and threw them behind my head in an effort to constrain me, although I was speaking to him a calm and non-aggressive tone and didn’t once even gesture. He then used excessive force to push me through the crown and out of the club while I was still in this “headlock” of sorts, before pushing me out of the front door. As soon as he grabbed me, I let my body go limp because with the degree of force he was already using, I didn’t want him to think I was trying to fight back
When Wall sought out a police officer, he was told it was not an uncommon occurrence at that bar.
A photo on the Jezebel website offers a glimpse into the type of establishment The Downtown Sports Bar & Grill is. They have a dress code banning “Plain Tees”, baggy jeans, saggy jeans, “doo rags”, sideways caps, puffy jackets, construction boots, and workout attire.
Do these rules give you an idea of who Jonathan Wall is, how he looks, talks and dresses? Was he booted out because he looked and acted like a “thug”?
It shouldn’t matter, but the fact is that Jonathan Wall is a Harvard-bound student, whom his former instructor at North Carolina Central University, Philip Christman, calls “Mr. President” because “he’s one of the most intimidatingly accomplished and polished undergrads I’ve ever met.”
Once Christman posted Jonathan Wall’s story on his blog yesterday, the story gained traction and corroborating testimonials began pouring in. Jezebel features a number them in their article, and it becomes clear this particular bar has a race-based discrimination policy. Another victim of this discrimination created a Facebook page to further the issue, and within a single day it already had 3000 members.
And it’s a good thing social media has gotten behind this story, because when Wall told police about it, everyone basically shrugged and told him that it was more trouble than it was worth to report it.
Wall Tweeted yesterday about the power of social media to his generation:
“The power of social media. The power of a generation mistakenly written off as apathetic. Thank you all so much,”
What do you think of Jonathan Wall’s story? Should treatment like this be legal?
How has social media helped you?