July 23, 2024

Portland woman kicked out restaurant for making whites uncomfortable files lawsuit

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A Portland woman says she and her family were kicked out of a local restaurant because they are Black, a claim she made in a racial discrimination lawsuit against the establishment.

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Krystal Menefee filed the suit last week against Thatcher’s Restaurant and Lounge in Portland, Ore., charging that a bartender told them their business was not welcome, as white customers glared on, OregonLive reports.

Menefee said she has frequented the establishment with white co-workers, danced on tables and had a good time at the restaurant without an issue, but it was a completely different story when she arrived at the door with her family of about seven on Aug. 23, writes the news outlet.

She explains that after a memorial service for an uncle, she and family members stopped at Thatcher’s to eat and drink, but the bartender had a problem when they played music on the jukebox.

Menefee said the bartender turned off the music and told them to “knock it off.” The bartender said the music made other people feel uncomfortable.

“We asked this couple nearby if we were bothering them, and they said, ‘no,’ ” Menefee said.  Menefee said the bartender turned the music back on, then off again.

“She says, ‘You’re not welcome here. You need to leave,’” Menefee said.

Menefee said she and her family left as all white customers stared them down.

She explained when she visited with white people before, this never occurred.

“We drink, laugh, joke, we’re being loud,” Menefee said. “We’ve been there dancing on tables, had impromptu karaoke sessions — nothing. Then I’m in there with my black family and it’s ‘Get out.’”

Menefee says in the suit she was “shocked, embarrassed and racially profiled.”

Menefee’s attorney, Michael Fuller, said she posted her story on Facebook where others shared similar experiences.

“It’s usually really easy for big companies to come up with a pretext,” he said. “I’d say what we have found that it’s a failure to supervise — often companies have policies but aren’t implementing them.”

Menefee said while she’s not seeking financial compensation, she thinks it’s necessary to file a suit to show that this behavior is not ok.

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“I feel like people are very comfortable with treating black people like this,” Menefee said. “I want them to know it’s not OK — we’re here, we’re visible. Don’t negate us.”

“I think it’s so normalized — people become desensitized to being treated badly,” Menefee said. “Someone will follow you at the store, or people will put your money down on the counter but put it into someone else’s hand.”

Menefee said she hopes the business works to treat all customers fairly.

“If the practices change, and more people of color feel welcome there,” she said. “But at this point, no. I don’t want to be treated like that again.”

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