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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Black man sues Grand Rapids bar for discrimination

Mariano Avila

On July 30, around 1:30 in the morning, Marcel Price was bar hopping in downtown Grand Rapids with some out-of-town friends when, he says, a bouncer at Tavern on the Square told him they couldn’t come in because of their skin color—he and his friends are Black. Price took out his cell phone and shot the following interaction.

Price: Wait one more time. You don’t want to let us in because of what? The black people inside.

Bouncer: Yeah, because we’ve got three of them in here, so whatever.

Price: Alright, yeah.

Bouncer: You're (BEEP) dumb.

Price: So you don’t want to let us in?

Bouncer: No, you can get out of my face too.

Price: What’s your name?

That last sound was the bouncer slapping the phone out of Price’s hand. The video, which he posted on Facebook, went viral and Tavern on the Square put out a statement saying that Price was denied entry because he arrived at closing time. Now, Price and his attorney have filed a suit seeking $25,000 in damages from both the company and the bouncer.

“They’ve done damage to my name that will never be healed again. There’s people in the news comments section who think that they’re telling the truth, that think that I was being aggressive, that think that I was calling them being threatening, that think all of these things about me. And that’s an extensive amount of damage to my name for what I do in the community, because there’s people that might never bring me into their school to work with their kids again.”

The suit seeks damages for constitutional violations, assault and defamation. Tavern on the Square only offered WGVU the public statement despite several efforts to get a comment. 

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