Local News

Raleigh bar patrons share differing views of discrimination claims

Posted June 23, 2012 9:49 p.m. EDT
Updated May 10, 2013 5:19 p.m. EDT

— Accusations of racial discrimination at The Downtown Sports Bar and Grill in Raleigh continue to spark strong opinions, especially among people who've been there.

One day after Jonathan Wall, a 21-year-old black patron, told the media that he was thrown out of the Glenwood Avenue establishment, other patrons shared stories of similar mistreatment, while others painted a different picture.

“What raised an eyebrow was it happened to me and it happened to him (Wall). Who else is it happening to?” said Terrel Hopson.

Hopson and his co-worker, Richard Meador, say they were at a business dinner on Glenwood Avenue in December. After dinner, they went to Downtown Sports Bar and Grill. Everyone in the group was white, except Hopson, who is black. They say he was turned away because his sweater was too long.

“Meanwhile, we see other people go into this establishment with flip flops (and jeans and shirts with holes),” Hopson said, adding that he was eventually told he could enter if he tucked in his sweater.

“It floored me that any establishment, any company in Wake County could survive with that type of callousness,” Meador added.

Wall's account of being thrown out of the bar because he is black has generated similar claims of discrimination on social media. Others, though, are defending the bar.

One man, who did not want to be identified, says he goes to Downtown Sports Bar three or four times a week and sees a diverse mix of people.

“It’s laid back, easy going. I mean, I don’t see (any) problems,” the man said.

Downtown Raleigh nightlife photos, shot by LazyDay.com and featured on WRAL.com, do show diverse crowds inside the bar.

“Like anywhere you go, you’re going to have problems no matter where you’re at. It’s how people take it,” the man said.

Hopson says there was only one way for him to take what happened that night in December.

“I was refused because of (my) color and fabric,” he said.

William Potter, an attorney for Downtown Sports Bar, continued Saturday to deny any discrimination at the bar.

"On any Friday night, 20 to 30 percent of the membership at the bar are racial minorities. Any suggestion the business is racist is foolish,” he said.

Potter said he wasn't familiar with Hopson's claims. As for Wall, he again reiterated Wall took advantage of a crowded door situation last weekend after being told he could not enter without being a member or the guest of a member.