Crowd gathers in protest outside SLC bar that refused service to Polynesian men

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SALT LAKE CITY – A rally was held in front of a Salt Lake City bar Saturday night, and participants were expressing their displeasure after employee’s at that bar denied two men service because they are Polynesian.

The protest happened at Willies Lounge, which is where two men were denied service Tuesday because of their race.

The owner of the bar has since apologized, promised to change company policy and offer sensitivity training. He also met with community leaders earlier in the week to listen to their concerns.

Despite the apology, protest organizers say it's still important to stand up to racism.

"Small fires become big fires really, really quickly, and it’s vitally important that when injustice happens and those small fires pop up, you got to smash those, put them out, put them out in the biggest way you possibly can,” protest organizer Mike Tuiasoa said.

Originally, protesters were going to perform the haka, which is a traditional Polynesian war cry/dance, but they reconsidered because they said they didn't want to detract from the message or misrepresent the Polynesian culture.

The protest was organized by people supporting the men who were denied service, not by the men themselves. Those men told FOX 13 News earlier in the week they were meeting with attorneys to discuss their options and would not comment further until after they had done so.

11 comments

    • Anotherbob

      Rather “Utah! Full of stupid idiots who can’t read a news story and overreact to everything!” This plate would look great on your car. This wasn’t bar policy, it was a misunderstanding of another policy that the bartender made. The OWNER has confirmed this and apologized. Now idiots are filing lawsuits and gathering for protests, bunch of morons.

      • wick308

        I concur with anotherbob. Seems like we live in an over reactive society. It’s not just Utah folks, look around. I wonder if the same treatment would fly if it was racism towards cocasians???

      • Bryant

        How was it a misunderstanding?? The owner apologized because he was forced to knowing that there were repercussions. He had a chance to apologize before that but instead the owner tried to justify his actions and then erased his Facebook post because of the response he received.

  • liberalssuck

    LIberal dirt that find and revel in racism under every corner as long as its done by a caucasian make me want to puke.”love utah” is a shining example.Racism perpetrated by any other ethnic group gets no mention,ever notice that?
    Hey love utah google this- “white girl bleed a lot”, and get back to us…………..

  • mormon lover

    The responses to this story are hilarious. If anyone had been paying attention, they’d know it wasn’t just “a misunderstanding” like the owner has tried to portray. The business had a policy of telling female bartenders that they could refuse service to certain “groups of people, including but not limited to Polynesians” if they came in late at night. The female bartender chose to exercise her discretion to refuse service to a couple of Polynesian dudes one night, and all he!! broke loose for this establishment.

    The policy allowing refusal of service to ANY customer based solely upon their race is against federal law. The fact that the policy was enacted for female bartenders may make it a further violation of federal law.

    You cannot discriminate against your customers or employees based upon their race OR gender.

    It is the responsibility of the business owner to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for both his employees and his customers without violating anti-discrimination laws. If this means having more than one bartender on duty or employing a bouncer or changing business hours or taking other actions, that’s on him.

    Business owners don’t just get to say “Some Polynesians got into a brawl here one time, so from now on we’re going to refuse service to Polynesians based solely on their race at the sole discretion of FEMALE bartenders.”

    Nope.

    I worked a restaurant in Provo, nearly on BYU campus. I was the general manager. One night, a couple of white BYU students got into a brawl. It got physical and I had to call the cops and ultimately testify at their trial. Would it have been reasonable to tell my employees that if white BYU students came in late at night, they could refuse service to them at their sole discretion, based on their CTR rings or garments and age and the color of their skin?

    It was the ONLY altercation I had at the establishment, so if I were to have to say that I had a problem with any one demographic causing problems at my restaurant, I would have to say that white mormon males between 20-26 were problematic.

    However, as a responsible manager and business operator, I chose to make sure my establishment was staffed properly for my demographic. I didn’t leave single employees responsible for their own well-being while customers flowed in and out of the doors. I made responsible staffing decisions rather than relying on discrimination to protect my employees.

    There is no excuse for this bar’s policy, and it is illegal under Federal law to refuse service to someone based upon their race. This bar owner is going to be lucky to come out of this situation with two pennies to rub together, and it will be his own fault. There are measures available to responsible business owners to ensure they are able to properly staff their establishment in such a way that their employees and customers remain reasonably safe. If this dude chose to cut corners to save a buck, he brought his demise on himself.

    I read another article where he said that when his staff called him to tell them that they’d “screened” some employees and probably shouldn’t have, his response was to “run down there and offer to buy the guys dinner.”

    Seriously?

    You tell me I’m not trustworthy in your establishment and then try to rectify your blatant racism with a burger?

    There’s no dollar amount that can make these potential customers whole after the treatment they received, no policy changes and no sensitivity training. What happened to them is the direct product of ignorant racism, and I hope this bar owner loses everything for his blatant disregard of both common decency and federal law.

    When he does, I’ll buy him dinner. It should make him feel better.

  • TLBUtah52

    Wouldn’t expect any less when there is the possibility of getting money for nothing. Maybe the judge will make the right call on this….hopefull

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