- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2016

Two ACLU lawyers have accused a karaoke bar in California of discriminating against them because they’re black.

Abre’ Conner and Novella Coleman, both lawyers for the ACLU Northern California chapter, penned a blog post on the organization’s website Thursday detailing their experience.

The said they went to The Brig in Fresno with a third friend on March 12 to sing karaoke, but were told by bar employees before their song was called that they had to buy drinks if they wanted to stay.

“Another bartender lunged at us within inches of our faces and shouted ‘Buy drinks!’” they wrote. “Our group of three had already bought two drinks. But it quickly became clear to us that we were unwelcome in the bar.”

They wrote that a second bartender, “a very tall and large man,” repeatedly pushed his body up against Ms. Conner to force her out of the bar.

“We pointed out that the bar staff was only using the rule against us and we seemed to be the only two Black people in the bar,” they wrote.

The police were called and the women were asked to leave.

“Police departments are supposed to enforce criminal laws and threats to public safety, not enforce personal biases,” the women wrote. “The bartender and police claimed to be exercising the business’ supposed ‘right’ to refuse service. This sounds too much like when the country still had ‘colored’ sections and racially segregated water fountains. But this happened in March 2016.

“The servers said it wasn’t about race. But for us, and for many other patrons, it was,” they wrote. “Privilege often blurs the blatant issues of race right in front of our eyes. We’re not the first people that this has happened to. But let’s be clear — no business can kick people out just because they’re Black.”

The Brig manager Heidi Wilson told The Huffington Post that the allegations of racial discrimination are “absolutely false.”

“It’s not a racial thing whatsoever; that is 100 percent false,” Ms. Wilson said. “It’s because they were loitering and didn’t purchase anything.”

“They refused to leave and the police were on our side and escorted them out,” she added.

Ms. Conner and Ms. Coleman said they bought two drinks before the confrontation began. They said they haven’t ruled out litigation against The Brig, the Post reported.

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