GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A man says he was denied entry into a popular downtown Grand Rapids bar and says he was told by the bouncer that it was because of his race.
Marcel Price posted a video of his encounter on Facebook that garnered more than 1,600 shares and more than 40,000 views in just hours. Price, an African American, said he and four friends were attempting to enter Tavern on the Square, 100 Ionia Ave. SW, on Friday night around 1 a.m. when they were stopped by a bouncer at the door.
Price said when he asked the bouncer why he and his friends couldn’t come in, the man replied “you know why,” to which Price said he asked if it was because he and his friends were black.
The man then replied it was “because you are black,” Price claims.
That’s when Price said he pulled out his phone to record the man on camera. Price said he asked again and the man replied on video, “we already have three black people in here,” as he gestured inside the bar.
The man can be seen hitting the phone out of Price’s hand in the video.
“It’s disgusting, it’s like so many people see as being sarcasm or humor. No, this is racism,” Price told FOX 17. “It’s not a joke, especially for the four people of color you’re saying can’t come into your establishment, and then you slap my phone out of hand? I’m not an aggressive individual.”
FOX 17 reached out to management with the Tavern on the Square on Saturday afternoon and was told that employees were in a meeting to discuss how to handle the situation and that a statement would be issued later in the day.
The bar issued a statement Sunday on its Facebook page:
“We had a very unfortunate incident at Tavern on the Square early Saturday morning that is very out of the ordinary for us. When a patron attempted to gain access after our closing time, he was denied and the response has generated concern for everyone involved.
At Tavern, we are extremely proud of the diversity of our staff and of our patrons.
We aggressively promote inclusion and diversity. More importantly, we are in the hospitality industry and treat people as people, our customers, not according to their skin color, religion, sex, origin, etc.
When this unfortunate incident occurred, it was after approximately 10 minutes of threatening banter by the patron to our security personnel. Clearly our security person acted poorly and should not have touched the personal property of another person. Internal steps are being taken to deal with this. If anyone felt our staff was being racially insensitive, we sincerely apologize. That is not how we operate our business, nor do we condone or tolerate racial insensitivity, verbal or otherwise.
We are open to working with other establishments in the area, or local organizations to raise the level of discussion and understanding of racial issues in our community and we will continually work with our staff to foster understanding and sensitivity to these sensitive issues.”
In no way do we condone that kind of behavior towards anyone and we will be instituting professional training to ensure our security team maintains the level of courtesy and protection that our patrons have come to expect from our restaurant.”