Chicago Restaurant Manager Suspended After Throwing Chair At Black Teen

Chicago Restaurant Manager Suspended After Throwing Chair At Black Teen

Matthew Fezzey admitted to the incident, but no charges have yet been filed.

Published January 9, 2019

A white restaurant manager in Chicago was suspended after swinging a chair at a Black teen who was meeting some friends.

On Jan. 2, John "Kyle" Johnson was walking by a downtown location of Poke Poke when he saw a friend wave through the window. He entered the restaurant to catch up with two of his friends when he was met with hostility, reported the Chicago Tribune.

"I'll kick your a--," the restaurant's manager, Matthew Fezzey, yelled, according to Johnson. "This is my place of business."

Just seconds later, Fezzey swung a chair at Johnson, hitting him in the arm. Johnson immediately called the police and began filming Fezzey.

"I was super-shocked, I was scared, thinking: 'Is this really happening right now?'" Johnson told The Washington Post. "I looked into his eyes, and they were super furious."

In the video, Fezzey says he was "in the wrong" and that throwing the chair was his "first instinct" after a previous alleged robbery involving Black men.

"Two days ago - and I'm not trying to be racist - two Black guys robbed two people right here," Fezzey said in the video.

"But sir, you threw a chair at me," Johnson responded. "I'm not those guys."

"Listen, three days ago, before that, I had two more Black guys. I actually fought them in here," Fezzey replied. "They tried threatening one of my employees, and I had to fight them ... when you guys came in here, I just got really ... defensive, really defensive, because I had to fight them off all the time. These security guards over here don't do a ... thing."

In a statement posted to social media, Poke Poke issued an apology.

"How our manager reacted to the situation was absolutely unacceptable and against what we stand for," the restaurant wrote. "Racism has no place in today's society, and no one should ever be judged by the color of their skin. There are no excuses for what happened to Kyle and for that we apologize."

Fezzey had been suspended, pending a police investigation, the statement read.

No charges have been filed in the case. Johnson's attorney, Anish Parikh, told The Post that his client plans to take legal action.

Parikh also said Fezzey should have immediately been terminated and a simple suspension "speaks volumes about their business and the people who run it."

"This type of behavior, in our opinion, warrants a termination," he said.

Johnson, a high school senior, said "meditation and prayer" kept him calm through the infuriating incident. 

"In any situation where someone would throw a chair at you, it makes you feel like you can't do anything," Johnson said. "My state of mind was literally, 'God help me,' and I just remained calm."

Written by Rachel Herron

(Photo: CBS Chicago)


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