Willie’s Lounge, a bar in Salt Lake City, Utah, refused to serve two men last Tuesday night based on the fact that they are Polynesian. The men were subsequently asked to leave the bar. The owner of Willie’s, Geremy Cloy, admits that the decision to refuse service to the men stemmed from racial profiling, and has pulled the restaurant’s Facebook page because of all the negative comments and reviews being posted, according to KUTV.
(Screengrab from Facebook via KUTV)
Cloy admits that there are certain “types” of people that are kicked out of his bar; this includes people that are “Polynesian, just got out of jail, have neck tattoos, look like they are hooked on drugs, and across all spectrums—not just Polynesians. It just so happens our problem has been with Polynesians,” he tells KUTV.
Frank Maea, one of the two men who was kicked out of Willie’s on Tuesday, describes what went down: “They asked us if we were Polynesian, and we were like, ‘Yeah.” And they’re like, ‘IIm sorry we can’t serve you guys.'”
There are now calls for the liquor license to be pulled from the bar, and the ACLU is trying to make sure legal action takes place. University of Utah Law Professor Clifford Rosky tells KUTV, “It’s clearly illegal for any bar in the state of Utah to discriminate based on race, religion, sex, ancestry or national origin.”
Mike Tuiasoa, a half-Polynesian man who owns a coffee house a block from Willie’s, is organizing a protest. He says his goal is not to have any businesses shut down, but he says, “I want there to be more of an understanding; I think a lot of Polynesians get a bad rap.” He plans to bring people from the community together to do a non-violent ancestral war dance, which will be done outside of Willie’s.
Refusing service to someone based on their race or religion is illegal in Utah; still, KUTV points out that anyone who is gay or transgender can be turned away without any other reason besides their sexual orientation, according to Utah law. Think about that for a second.