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Resolution reached in Raleigh bar discrimination claim

Posted October 1, 2012

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— A downtown Raleigh bar manager and a customer who says he was kicked out of the bar because he is black were able to resolve the matter Monday, prompting Wake County prosecutors to dismiss a criminal complaint against the manager.

Jonathan Wall, 21, filed the complaint this summer against Todd Chriscoe, accusing him of simple assault and ethnic intimidation stemming from a June 17 encounter at the Downtown Sports Bar and Grill in which Chriscoe told Wall that he would have to buy a drink or leave.

Wall, a Harvard graduate student, said that when he tried to explain to Chriscoe that he was waiting for a friend who was using the bathroom, Chriscoe grabbed his wrists, put them behind his neck and forced him out of the bar.

Chriscoe and Wall sought mediation in recent months but failed to resolve the matter, prompting it to go to trial Monday.

The dispute, however, was settled prior to trial Monday afternoon after both sides met privately. Neither spoke of the details of the agreement but no money was involved in it.

"Disputes can be resolved through reason, and I think that's what happened today," Wall's attorney, Geoff Simmons, said.

"I think everyone, after a full and fair open discussion on the matter, concluded in this particular situation that this was what was appropriate," Chriscoe's attorney, Bill Young said.

Chriscoe still denies the accusations and said that, since June, the bar has suffered financially and that he has also received death threats.

Race, he said in an interview after court, was never a factor in the decision to ask Wall to leave the bar.

"I'm very offended by those accusations, as is my staff," Chriscoe said. "It's 2012. It's kind of infuriating, but I do have a business to run."

Todd Chriscoe Resolution reached in Raleigh bar discrimination claim

Chriscoe said Wall had been in the bar for 25 minutes on the night in question and that Wall shoved him and grabbed his shirt when Chriscoe asked him either to buy a drink or leave.

"I grabbed his arm and slowly escorted him to the top of the stairs and walked him out," Chriscoe said.

Surveillance video from the bar, he said, shows that he never put Wall in a headlock or threw him to the ground outside the bar. He would not show WRAL News the video.

Wall's story sparked a social media firestorm and prompted numerous other people to come forward, saying they had observed racial bias at the bar.

But other patrons defended the bar, denying that it discriminates.

Wall said little Monday afternoon, but offered his gratitude to his supporters.

"I would just like to thank everyone supporting me across this world, really, especially the Raleigh-Durham area," he said.

His attorneys said they are proud that Wall took a stand and shared his experience and hope that it will encourage people to continue a dialogue on race.

"His intention, in the beginning, was to say what happened to him, and that was it," attorney Alesia Vicks said. "Then, floodgates opened, and the dialogue started and will continue, and we're all going to be better for it because of this situation."

168 Comments

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  • Brian Jenkins Oct 3, 2012

    I just called Hibernia. They have NO free drink policy. LOL

  • Brian Jenkins Oct 3, 2012

    I live in North Carolina and travel for work. Some of us have had the experience of living in and working in many places - both in the U.S. and world-wide.
    westernwake1
    October 2, 2012 3:41 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Your worldwide experiences have nothing to do with a bar in Raleigh. Good try though.

  • Brian Jenkins Oct 3, 2012

    Someone let me know when vinyl has tired herself out screaming into the ether. Thanks!
    storchheim
    October 2, 2012 5:44 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Go complain about the NDAA you'll be voting for. LOL

  • westernwake1 Oct 2, 2012

    "I've gotten free soda at the Hibernian, Tyr na Nog, Greenshields when it was there, and that steakhouse on the corner. I'm surprised when I do get charged because it seems more often I don't.

    I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with the way I behave or present myself. Just more racism." - storchheim

    Greenshields back in hte day used to be my favorite place to visit in downtown Raleigh. It is a shame that it is gone. My wife used to be the designated driver for our group and they always served her free diet coke.

  • storchheim Oct 2, 2012

    "Ive been to DC and Virginia bars many times and the "free drink" policy did not apply. Same in Orange Co California." vinyl

    You're not wanted anywhere, are you?

  • storchheim Oct 2, 2012

    I've gotten free soda at the Hibernian, Tyr na Nog, Greenshields when it was there, and that steakhouse on the corner. I'm surprised when I do get charged because it seems more often I don't.

    I'm sure it has nothing at all to do with the way I behave or present myself. Just more racism.

  • storchheim Oct 2, 2012

    Someone let me know when vinyl has tired herself out screaming into the ether. Thanks!

  • Barfly Oct 2, 2012

    In the past, I remember some local bars offering free non-alcoholic beverages for DD's. It was a marketing promotion, not something done regularly.

  • sweetjess1951 Oct 2, 2012

    Ok, lets do some research before acting like we know North Carolina law. NC has requirements for clubs like Downtown Sports Bar, such as the membership requirement. It has something to do with the percentage of alcohol sales compared to food and non-alcohol sales. If one exceeds the other, you must enforce membership. Although it is RARELY enforced, it still is a law and unfortunately, bar owners pick and chose when they want to use it.

  • westernwake1 Oct 2, 2012

    "There are a large number of nightclubs outside of North Carolina that offer free non-alcoholic beverages to designated drivers"

    'The truth SLOWLY creeps out. We are in NC not Boston genius'

    I live in North Carolina and travel for work. Some of us have had the experience of living in and working in many places - both in the U.S. and world-wide.

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