Dallas Bar to Pay Fines Over Discrimination Claims

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  • One popular Dallas bar is paying the price after allegations of discrimination based on race arose back in 2014.

    The Dallas Morning News reports:

    After complaints of racism surfaced against Uptown Dallas bar Kung Fu Saloon in mid-2014, the case is now closed.

    Kung Fu reps entered two “no contest” pleas on Jan. 26 related, in part, to allegations from Dallas resident DeAndre Upshaw, who said he was turned away at the bar in May because a bouncer said his Converse sneakers violated the bar’s dress code. Upshaw, a black man, told The Dallas Morning News in May that his white, female friend was wearing the same Converse sneakers and was granted admittance into the bar that night.

    The bar did not have a dress code posted publicly at the time of Upshaw’s incident. Upshaw believes he was turned away because he’s black. Kung Fu said it does not deny entry “based upon race, ethnicity, gender, religion or any other status,” according to a statement from the bar on May 20.

    Upshaw and others filed formal complaints against the bar, and City Manager A.C. Gonzales promised to investigate Kung Fu Saloon “very aggressively.” The investigation considered Kung Fu’s potential violation of Section 3l-3(b)(2) of the Dallas City Code, which relates to unlawfully refusing admission to an establishment because of dress or grooming.

    At the time of the incident, Upshaw launched a social media campaign urging others to share #NoKungFuDallas. The city reiterated its commitment to the investigation: “Discrimination is unacceptable,” said Beverly Davis, assistant director of fair housing and human rights, before the investigation began.

    Kung Fu in Dallas has since posted its dress code, which prohibits baggy clothing, gang-associated clothing and obscene emblems, among other things.

    In a Feb. 9 statement, the bar hopes it can move on. “We made this decision in order to move forward without further proceedings, and in hopes of refocusing our full attention on providing a welcoming entertainment experience to the community,” the statement reads.

    Kung Fu is required to pay two fees of $400 and receive deferred adjudication for 90 days, according to a city of Dallas memo. (Hat tip to the Dallas Observer for reporting the news first.)

    Kung Fu reps have also agreed to write letters of apology to Upshaw and Jesse Okiror, according to the city memo. At press time, Upshaw had not received his letter yet.

    Upshaw feels like the case ended well, he told The Dallas Morning News. “From the very beginning, my entire goal was that I wanted them to acknowledge that what they were doing was in violation of the law,” he says.

    “Anytime you can bring about change … it’s worth it,” he said. “It took a lot of time and effort. I believe it was worth it.”

    The Department of Justice is operating a separate investigation.

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