A racially diverse jury in Atlanta quickly decided Friday that former NBA All-Star Joe Barry Carroll and his friend Joseph Shaw were not the victims of discrimination when they were asked to leave an Atlanta bar after they would not give up their seats to two white women.
"I'm disappointed in the outcome, but I had to go through the process," Carroll said after the verdict, according to the Associated Press. "Their behavior was outrageous."
The ”behavior” Carroll spoke of occurred in 2006 at an upscale Atlanta tavern where Carroll and Shaw, a lawyer, were having drinks. When two white women approached the packed bar, Carroll and Shaw were asked to give up their seats to the women and management offered to seat them at a table, but the men refused.
Although the restaurant has a policy of asking men to give up their bar seats to women, Carroll and Shaw claim that they were asked to leave because of their race and that the bar routinely asks Blacks to leave in order to maintain a white clientele. The lawsuit against the tavern alleged that the bar committed a civil rights violation of public accommodations laws and asked for $3 million in damages.
Carroll and Shaw’s lawyer presented testimony from two former employees of the bar who confirmed that the restaurant’s strategy was to maintain a white crowd, stating that management was concerned about the business being ruined by attracting a hip hop crowd.
Despite the testimony, a jury of seven whites and three Blacks determined that the men were not discriminated against. Counsel for the tavern told the jurors that the men expected special treatment and presented testimony from Carroll, saying that he might have given up his seat if the women were Black.
(Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)