A Black medical student claims he was not allowed to use the bathroom in a popular New York City bar because of his skin color, the NY Daily News reports.
Kim Ohaegbulam, a Ph.D and M.D. student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, was at the historic Landmark Tavern in Hell’s Kitchen with two of his colleagues — one Indian and the other Asian — celebrating the completion of a project when the incident happened.
Ohaegbulam was in line for the bathroom with his friends, but when it was his turn, the night manager stopped him. He was told that the bathroom was for paying customers only, although Ohaegbulam had just been drinking for 45 minutes prior.
According to New York Daily News, the security guard, who requested to remain anonymous, said:
“I told Don (the manager) that I had checked his ID on the way in. Don has the type of personality, what he says goes.”
The night manager did not change his decision despite the evidence backing Ohaegbulam’s claims.
Ohaegbulam did not back down either, but it soon became clear that the refusal was about a deeper issue. Five police officers were called to the scene and Ohaegbulam was arrested and taken to the precinct, where he was given a summons for disorderly conduct and “unreasonable noise.”
Robert Ferrari, the lawyer representing the Tavern, stated there was no racial discrimination and claimed Ohaegbulam was “inebriated” and “menacing” in the establishment. He told The New York Daily News that Ohaegbulam was one of many Black customers in the bar and that he was not an actual customer, but instead was “hanging out.”
Ohaegbulam told the outlet:
“I’ve never experienced anything like this in my 28 years, I’ve never been denied the use of a bathroom anywhere.”
Having been raised in both Alabama and Florida, commonly known as conservative states, Ohaegbulam compared the incident to something reminiscent of the Jim Crow era:
“I don’t like to play the race card, but it is what it was. It was a blatant form of racial discrimination. I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again at that establishment.”
Ferrari claimed surveillance videos from the bar erase footage every two weeks, so there is no way to prove whether or not Ohaegbulam’s claims are true.
Ohaegbulam will be contesting the summons in court to prove this was a case of racial discrimination – with his bar receipts as evidence.
SOURCES: New York Daily News | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty
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