A Chicago night club has agreed to apologize publicly to six college students from St. Louis. The students gained national media attention when they were told they could not enter the Original Mother’s on Chicago’s Near North side because their jeans were too baggy.
But the six African-American students say white classmates with baggier jeans were admitted. Student Regis Murayi says the settlement was never about the money.
MURAYI: This isn’t about power, this isn’t about leverage, this isn’t about fighting and kicking and screaming. This is about really raising the issue about racial discrimination in America and really opening this discussion moving forward.
Managers at the night club will undergo diversity training. The bar is also planning to participate in an anti-discrimination rally in Chicago in late November.
Chicago Club’s Alleged Racism Prompts Investigation, Lawsuit, [Updated 10.28.09, 1:41 p.m.]
Complaints about alleged race discrimination by a Chicago bar against six black Washington University students have prompted state and federal investigations and a likely lawsuit to be filed by the students against the bar.
The developments came in the week after the incident, which occurred during a senior class trip night out at the Original Mothers bar in a popular nightspot downtown. Senior Class Council had made prior arrangements with the bar for some 200 seniors to go there.
The investigations, which include an FBI inquiry, are a result of complaints filed by Regis Murayi, one of the students denied entry into the bar on Oct. 17. Murayi, treasurer of Senior Class Council, filed complaints with the Chicago Commission on Human Rights, the Illinois attorney general’s office and the U.S. Department of Justice.
In the complaints, Murayi alleged that the bar’s refusal to admit the students constituted discrimination under the Chicago Municipal Code, which prohibits places of public accommodations from discriminating against clientele based on race. Race discrimination is also a federal offense under Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Murayi said the manager of Mothers told him and the other students that they could not enter the bar because they were violating the bar’s ban on baggy jeans. But Murayi said the manager admitted white students wearing baggy jeans. To prove this, Murayi changed jeans with senior Jordan Roberts, a white student, and Roberts was then admitted into the bar wearing the jeans.
Murayi said he thinks the six were discriminated against not because of their jeans but because they were a large group of black men.
“The bar racially discriminated against us and automatically assumed that we were dangerous,” Murayi said.
Representatives from Mothers declined to be interviewed this weekend by Student Life but said in a news release that the bar “does not discriminate against guests or patrons on the basis of race, and would never tolerate discriminatory conduct.” Mothers said it is conducting an investigation into the case and will take disciplinary action if necessary.
Mothers representatives also told the Chicago Tribune Friday that the students were rejected because of security concerns, not racism. Mothers’ human resource manager, Dan Benson, said a security photograph showed that two of the students had been wearing backward baseball caps, which are associated with gangs. Benson said gang violence is common in the area near the bar.