Man at center of bar controversy speaks out


Jonathan Wall said the response to his email alleging discrimination has been overwhelming. He said he never thought his negative experience at a Raleigh bar would bring so much attention, but he now welcomes it.

"I'm left to ask what left me so undesirable as a patron for any establishment in downtown Raleigh," said Wall.

The color of his skin is what Wall said got him kicked out of Raleigh's "Downtown Sports Bar" last weekend.

"What was so demoralizing about this reality is that I worked to do everything right," said Wall. "[I] studied hard, worked hard, served others. Yet, I was treated as though I did something wrong."

Wall, a Harvard-bound grad student, said he and two friends were profiled the minute they walked up to the door of the bar, but eventually got in. Attorney Alesia Vick said profiling soon turned into discrimination.

"[The staffer] told Jonathan to buy a drink or leave," said Vick. "Again, it is worth noting he was not the only person in the bar without a drink, but he was the only African-American male in close proximity without a drink."

Within minutes, Vick alleged the same staffer became violent with Wall.

"[He] returned to where Jonathan was standing, assaulted him and forcibly removed him from inside the bar, and attempted to throw him to the ground once outside," said Vick.

Upset, Wall found a nearby police officer and complained. He said he didn't file a report, because it was his word against the staffer, and he may have been charged as well. Instead, Wall wrote an angry e-mail about the incident. That email quickly went viral with others claiming they also faced discrimination at the bar.

However, in a statement, an attorney for the Downtown Sports Bar, which is a private club, said the incident has nothing to do with race: "Mr. Wall was not roughed up or improperly treated. Mr. Wall was not the subject of racial discrimination... Mr. Wall was ultimately asked to leave because he was not a member or a guest. Mr. Wall apparently took advantage of a crowded door situation and a distraction to enter the premises after being told by staff that he could not enter..."

NAACP attorney Irv Joyner, however, said the membership claim doesn't fly.

"The old claim that this is a private club is designed to escape the impeture of the law," said Joyner. "In this particular situation, it doesn't stand."

Joyner said the bar should accept responsibility.

"It would help if they said they done it and apologized to this young man for which the manner in which he was treated," said Joyner. "Now, that's the first step."

As for the next step, Wall is considering a lawsuit, or maybe pushing for criminal charges against the staffer involved. He said he didn't ask to be in this spotlight, but he won't shy away from it.

"This isn't anything I'd ever imagine but it's wonderful because like I said the only way we can stop it is to address it," said Wall. "If we're silent about it, it will continue."

A march and protest against the bar has been postponed while Wall's supporters wait for "major players" to come to Raleigh to support his cause. Meanwhile, the Downtown Sports Bar invites anyone to come down, become a member, and enjoy their diverse staff and clientele.

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