“Before I could utter another word, he grabbed my right wrist and my left arm and threw them behind my head… 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,” writes Jonathan Wall of his experience at the Downtown Raleigh Sports Bar and Grill.
On a blog run by one of his former teachers, Wall claims to be a black man who was assaulted and kicked out of the Downtown Sports Bar last weekend simply because of the color of his skin.
Social media chatter has ignited since the blog post went up Monday. A facebook group against discrimination at the Downtown Sports Bar has nearly 4,500 members.
The Downtown Sports Bar’s attorney, William H. Potter, told the Record that the bar “denies any racial discrimination. They deny roughing up Mr. Wall.”
He added, “The business has a diverse membership.”
The establishment’s photo gallery, however, does not paint such a diverse picture. The bar has posted pictures of patrons on its website from most nights during the past several years.
The most recent photo that features an African-American is dated April 18, more than two months ago. The next most recent is from December 2011.
Several commenters on social media sites claim to have witnessed Wall being thrown out of the bar.
After being asked to buy a drink or leave, Wall alleges he told an employee, “I’m just waiting for my friend to come back from the bathroom.”
“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… was that I was the only black person around,” Wall writes.
“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?’” Wall continued.
He alleges that he tried again to tell the employee in a calm manner that he was waiting for his friend, but was put into “a headlock of sorts.”
This part of Wall’s story is also supported by a website commentator. Ty writes, “I was there when this happened and no way this guy resisted, nor did he do any harm.”
Police Encouraged Wall Not to Press Charges, He Claims
Wall insists that the racism started when he was nearly denied entrance to Downtown Sports Bar.
A bouncer, Wall claims, told him he needed a membership to enter the bar. But Wall says the people in front of him only showed ID to get in the door.
“The only difference between those people and my friends and I was our race,” he writes. Wall believes he was only let in because a police officer happened to walk by at that moment.
“North Carolina state law requires the business to limit use to members and bona fide guests,” Downtown Sports Bar’s attorney told the Record. “Mr. Wall got in by apparently taking advantage of a crowded situation at the door and slipped through.”
Representatives for Wall told the Record he was unavailable for comment Thursday.
Wall writes that after he was booted, he sought out a police officer.
“She explained that this happens all the time, and that if she approached the bartender about it, he’d have witnesses that would corroborate whatever story he made up as to why he kicked me out in such an aggressive manner,” Wall writes.
“Just then, the man who threw me out came to the front door. I pointed him out to the officer, and she approached him to talk about the incident. 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.’”
He claims that he was advised by an attorney that any legal proceedings “would be an uphill battle.” But, social media has already set the court of public opinion in motion.
Wall has a press conference scheduled for noon on Friday at the State Capitol. A protest is scheduled for Saturday and the stop discrimination Facebook page claims to be churning out T-shirts that read “Raleigh Racism: Not About That Life” by the dozens.
Will Huntsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or @willhuntsberry