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Restaurant Manager Throws Chair at Black Teen

Matthew Fezzey blamed his actions on "past issues" with Black men.

Matthew Fezzey, a manager, has been suspended from Poke Poke in Chicago, Ill., after he admitted throwing a chair at a young, Black male customer in his restaurant.


John "Kyle"Johnson, an 18-year-old high school senior, met friends for dinner at the restaurant on Wabash Avenue in Chicago on Jan. 2. Once he entered the restaurant, Fezzey confronted him.

Fezzey, almost immediately, began to threaten the teen, even cursing at him.

"I'll kick your a**," Fezzey allegedly said, "This is my place of business."

Johnson then states that Fezzey proceeded to throw a chair at him, which hit him in the arm. The frightened teen decided to call police and began recording the remaining interaction in a minute-long video that was later posted to Facebook and has had more than 24,000 views.

Fezzey admitted to throwing the chair at the young man, but ranted in the video that his previous encounters with Black men basically triggered him even though Johnson never posed a threat or acted aggressively.

"I'm f–king in the wrong," Fezzey admitted in the video. "This is the second time in a row, third time in a row … Two days ago — not trying to be racist — two Black guys robbed two people right here."

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

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

"Again, I'm way in the wrong," Fezzey said. "I feel bad but that was just my first instinct because I've had to deal with fights here, which I shouldn't. And I legit thought we were headed to fight."

Even though he admitted that he was wrong, he invalidated the admission by saying this was a third incident that "Black guys" tried to rob the restaurant or cause a disturbance on the premises. He, also, didn't apologize to the young man.

Instead, he gaslighted the teen as if the mere fact that Johnson was young, Black and a male justified Fezzey's antagonistic and unprofessional behavior. If he felt "threatened," he could have asked the boy to leave.

Once police arrived, Fezzey seemed to change his story, according to a report. Johnson told the officers, who responded to the call, that Fezzey, 32, hit him with a plastic chair after a verbal dispute. Fezzey, then, claimed Johnson entered the restaurant and started arguing with him while clenching his fists, making him believe that he was about to be assaulted by the teenager.

How did Fezzey think Johnson should have responded after being confronted for no reason? And Fezzey never said in the video that the teen's "clenched fist" made him act in that manner. Fezzey even alluded to having "had something in his backpack that would end them."

Charges have yet to be filed against the manager because the report listed all parties involved as "victims."

Johnson was taken to a nearby hospital for his injured arm and will move forward with legal action.

A corporate spokesperson for PokePoke said that Fezzey will be suspended until an investigation is complete, adding: "We don't condone any type of racism or discrimination."

Then, the restaurant took to its Instagram account to issue the standard apology for the incident.

According to Eater (Chicago), the Poke chain was introduced in the summer of 2017 and there are four locations throughout Chicago.

Fezzey, clearly, admitted that he was wrong in the video and has admitted to throwing a chair at a customer for no reason but an investigation still needs to be done in order to terminate him? Got it.

Johnson was there to eat. In the video, Johnson never so much as raises his voice even though he had been assaulted by Fezzey. He showed compassion and even apologized for what, allegedly, happened to Fezzey in the past. The manager still only saw the well-spoken teen as a predator.

Here's a suggestion for Fezzey and Poke Poke: hire better security. Patrons and employees should feel safe in a restaurant. If he is triggered by Black men, maybe he should find another job outside of the heart of Chicago, which has the second-highest population of Black people in the United States outside of New York City.

The Conversation (5)
votetocorrect11 Jan, 2019

The manager needs to be charged with assault. Next, beef up security.

bernie butler10 Jan, 2019

Not sure exactly what all happened to cause the manager to throw the chair, or what words were actually said by either party, but it's apparent it went too far. First, as a black man I know what it's like to be stereotyped and it needs to stop. I hope that the young teen is ok mentally after this ordeal and would just like to tell him to keep his head up. What I'd like to address however, is the mounting cases of mob action by black teens in the loop area that seem to be happening daily. I work in the area at a major hotel on a very busy intersection in river north and I have personally seen and have had to physically fight young teens that were threatening and harassing guests and tourists. It's embarrassing to me as a black man that so many of these kids come downtown and act like they have not one iota of sense and cannot conduct themselves in a positive manner. But it's like once you speak out against what's going on, you get ostracized and called "Uncle Tom" or "sellout" just because you want to see your young people conduct themselves accordingly. What's needed in the interim is a stronger police presence downtown , but ultimately the answer is just that PARENTS need to do a better job of raising their kids.

10 Jan, 2019

Oh ! And did I forget his Lies ?

10 Jan, 2019

I’m so Not surprised by his Thought Process , his Mental Illness ( Racism ) towardsBlacks or his Excuses.

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