Man says downtown bar didn’t let him in because of his race

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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.”

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16 comments

  • Bob

    Poor me, Poor Me, POOR ME I am black and everyone treats me unfairly. I am so tired of hearing the same old poor me over and over again.

    There is more to this story, a lot more! Wait and see.

  • Get real

    Looks like a set up from the “victim” if you ask me. The bouncer probably agreed with him bc it was a idiotic question and accusation. Im sure now that this moron stirred the pot there will be many more accusations and sad sob stories to come!!😭😣

  • Commonsense

    I’m not blonde, not five foot nine, have my own boobs and don’t weigh 120. Feel bad for me because I am normal!

    • Bill

      I do not believe anyone declared any affiliation to a political party. What does that have to do with the incident? Maybe if you walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, you’d have a different opinion, even if they were in the wrong. It’s called empathy and I hope that’s not limited to any political party.

  • Jessica

    Why is there this assumption that there is more to this story? It could just have easily happened exactly like he said. You can literally hear the bouncer say, “we already have three black people in here”. Maybe it was sarcasm but it is still unbelievably unprofessional and he has no legal right to knock the guys phone out of his hand.

    • Bob

      Did you watch the whole story. The bar was closing. They were not letting anyone in. You have no idea what a door guard has to put up with. Or maybe you do if you watched the video.

  • Bob

    If the small group of black people, who in no way represent the black community in general would get a life, a job, and stop looking for something to cry about the world would be a better place.

  • steve

    Both WOOD and WZZM have said that the group showed up around closing time. A lot of bars will not admit anyone if last call has been given. That may have been a factor here. Also, apparently the “offended individual is an artist or author of some kind. Maybe sales of his work have been slow and he figures that a lawsuit could produce an infusion of money as well as a little publicity. Who knows?