Abre' Conner and Novella Coleman were just trying to relax and unwind during happy hour at the Brig, a bar in Fresno, Calif., when they were rudely asked to leave. According to the ladies, the bartender insisted that they order drinks if they planned to stay, but when the women pointed out that they weren't the only patrons to not place an order, the bar manager called the cops on them. Conner and Coleman were escorted out by police, an incident that was undoubtedly humiliating for them.
Well, it turns out the jerks at the Brig messed with the wrong people, because Conner and Coleman aren't your average dames. They're lawyers for the local ACLU.
The women shared their experience on the organization’s blog Thursday in hopes of reminding people that we, as a nation, still have a lot of work to do when it comes to ending racism in America.
Conner said she and her friend were targeted for "standing in an establishment while Black," adding, "Police departments are supposed to enforce criminal laws and threats to public safety, not enforce personal biases.” Their statement continued, “The bartender and police claimed to be exercising the business’ supposed ‘right’ to refuse service. This sounds too much like when the country still had ‘colored’ sections and racially segregated water fountains. But this happened in March 2016.”
When Huffington Post contacted the Fresno Police, they did not respond, but the Brig's manager, Heidi Wilson said, "It’s not a racial thing whatsoever; that is 100 percent false. It’s because they were loitering and didn’t purchase anything.”
In response to the experience, Conner and Coleman are weighing the possibility of suing the bar. ACLU Northern California spokeswoman Leslie Fulbright told Huffington Post, “We are exploring our options” regarding legal action.
Conner's primary hope is that this kind of experience, and their coming forward about it, reminds people that we are not living in a post-racial society, and there is still a long way to go before people are equal in this country. “I know that we aren’t the first people that this has happened to, and unfortunately I don’t think that we’ll be the last,” she said. “It’s important to us to name racism when it happens and to call it out for what it is and to let businesses and bars know that they cannot discriminate against people just because of the color of their skin."
(Photo: Novella Coleman via Twitter)