As the story begins, on last Saturday night around 12:30am, I and 2 other friends went to Downtown Sports Bar and Grill off of Glennwood Avenue. The night got interesting as soon as we got to the door, and the bouncer told us “you need a membership to come in tonight, I’ve never seen you here before.” My friend Chris and I looked at each other in curiosity, knowing that the establishment was a bar and not a club, and that people in line before us walked right in after showing their ID. The only difference between those people and my friends and I was our race.
Still, we stood at the door in bewilderment asking “What?” as he 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.” This was the first interesting ordeal of the night, but not the last.
Once Wall finally made it inside, the barman ordered him to either buy a drink or leave. When Wall did not follow these directions immediately, the barman grabbed Wall’s right wrist and left arm, threw them behind his head, and pushed the young man outside.
Getting a police officer to talk to the barman was no help either.
They talked for about 3 minutes before she came back to me and said, “I knew this was going to happen. Now, I don’t believe him one bit, but he says that he has three people who witnessed you throw an elbow at him before he restrained you.” Shocked is an understatement.
At this point, I’m sure many of us would have given up, furious, but unable to see a way forward. Not so Jonathon Wall. Instead, he used his anger and frustration to sit down and pen a lengthy description of the incident, before emailing it to a local TV station and to his former instructor, Philip Christman, who posted Wall’s account on his blog. That post now has almost 200 comments, most of them sharing stories similar to Wall’s. The power of the written word!
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!!! Absolutely disgusting, I truly hope the news will do an investigation.
From these comments on Christman’s blog has grown a Facebook group, started by 21-year-old Karimah Shepherd, who experienced the same racial discrimination as Wall at the Downtown Sports Bar and Grill. That group now has around 3000 members, proving that grassroots action really works.
Photo Credit: San Diego Shooter