A Baltimore restaurant group apologized Monday and fired a manager after a Black woman posted a video to social media showing her young son being denied entry to one of its premises because he was wearing sports clothes, even though a similarly dressed white youngster was allowed in.
The incident came at a time when the issue of racial discrimination against African Americans has fueled protests across the US and the world over the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody as an officer knelt on his neck for several minutes while he was lying restrained on the ground.
“I have faced racism time and time again, but it’s hard AF, when you have to see your child (9yo) upset because he knows he’s being treated different than a white child!” wrote Marcia Grant in a caption accompanying the video she recorded as she was blocked from entering the Ouzo Bay restaurant.
In the video an employee is seen stopping Grant at the door and explaining that her son’s athletic shorts were against restaurant dress code.
Dress codes only apply to some of us — apparently.
This is ridiculously heartbreaking… pic.twitter.com/93fhnNPPe3
— Rex Chapman???????? (@RexChapman) June 23, 2020
“So we want to eat and they’re telling me my son can’t eat here because there’s no athletic wear,” Grant is heard saying. “He’s 9. And there’s kids out there with tennis shoes on.”
“Unfortunately, we do have a dress code,” the employee says, suggesting that her son change into non-athletic shorts.
Grant then points the camera at a white boy outside the restaurant, wearing a T-shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes who, she is heard saying, “just ate here.”
The restaurant employee responds the white child’s shirt is not what they consider an athletic shirt and that while tennis shoes are permitted, athletic shorts and shirts are not.
Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns Ozou, apologized in a statement posted to Twitter.
Today, we learned of an incredibly disturbing incident that occurred at one of our restaurants in Baltimore, Ouzo Bay. We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son & everyone impacted by this painful incident. This situation does not represent who or what Atlas stands for. pic.twitter.com/jsofGRLVw1
— Atlas Restaurant Group (@AtlasBaltimore) June 23, 2020
“This should never have happened, the manager seen in the video has been placed on indefinite leave,” the group said. “We are sickened by this incident.”
The groups added that while its dress codes are the results of “ongoing input from customers, in no way are they intended to be discriminatory.”
“As a result, we immediately revised our dress code policy so that children 12 years old and younger, who are accompanied by an adult, will not be subject to a dress code at any Atlas property,” the statement said.