A black woman claims she was asked by restaurant staff to give up her seat for two white men and, when she refused to do so, had a drink poured over her by a white bartender.
The woman, Liah Grant, was dining with friends at a J. Alexander's in West Bloomfield, Michigan, on 20 June when she was asked to give her seat up for two white men. But when she outrightly refused and said she was being discriminated against, a white bartender allegedly poured a drink on her.
Things escalated when another black man tried to back Grant up, resulting in a white patron then throwing food at him while using racial slurs. When police were initially called they identified the black man as the wrongdoer.
Grant posted the footage on Facebook alongside a caption explaining what had happened. She wrote:
Yesterday J Alexander’s protected a customer and employee after I (and several others) were discriminated against. This needs to end.
The Manager did not make the situation better, instead she told me to call someone else and she had to protect her employees.
I was called out of my name several times as I was trying to exit. I was then told they snuck the thug out the back so he could avoid the police. Wow. This is me recording however I did not know this would come next.
I just did not want the African American man attacked by the police, had no idea this was going to happen.
Grant's lawyer, Maurice Davis, is now asking for the restaurant to be held accountable, saying in a press conference:
This type of behaviour is archaic racism, reminiscent of the black men and women of the 1950s.
Our civil rights leaders fought for over a century to secure and preserve black citizens’ right to have a seat at the table, and we refuse to backslide to a nation where black people are told to give up their seat to white people.
According to WXYZ Detroit, the restaurant handed the security surveillance video to police, who are currently investigating the incident and have already identified a suspect.
In a statement, J. Alexander's said:
We have always adhered to a strict non-discrimination policy for all our restaurant staff and guests to ensure the best possible working and dining environment. This includes treating every customer with the same non-discriminatory service. We do not tolerate any diversion from this policy and likewise do not tolerate any inappropriate behaviour from either guests or employees.
On June 20, our staff and many of our guests experienced an unfortunate incident that disrupted the otherwise pleasant dining environment in our West Bloomfield restaurant. Our staff made every responsible effort to safely diffuse this incident in the face of profanity and acts of misbehaviour directed at them. None of our employees used profanity, made racial remarks or threw food but certain guests did. Ironically, two of those guests involved in this incident have falsely accused our staff of racial discrimination.