The University of Alabama alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, a predominantly Black fraternity, is suing after a venue turned them away for being an “all Black group.”
The fraternity filed a lawsuit against the Cypress Inn, Inc., at the end of June after staff at the restaurant changed its mind about the group hosting an event there. The fraternity had put a $1,500 deposit down in December for an event — a fundraiser for mentoring programs in the area — they were planning for two months later.
The event was to take place on Feb. 23, so Kappa members met with Cypress Inn staff on Feb. 6 to finalize the details. It was then — just about two weeks ahead of the scheduled affair — the men were told they would have to take their business elsewhere.
Apparently, the Cypress Inn had not known Kappa Alpha Psi a predominantly Black group when it agreed to rent the space. The Tuscaloosa-based Cypress Inn said it did not have the security to man the event. The fraternity said it would fund its own security, but this offer was denied.
According to the complaint:
The Plaintiffs also inquired whether insurance coverage was an issue and produced proof of insurance and pledged to sign a waiver to hold the Cypress Inn harmless from any liability related to the event. The Cypress Inn rejected this proposal as well. Plaintiffs even presented the Defendant with pictures of past events and stated that their membership was comprised of African-American professionals and business leaders. The Defendant still refused to rent the venue to them.
The Inn’s owner, a white woman, eventually became involved. Rather than hold her racist employees accountable and accept the men’s business, though, she proved that bad behavior does in fact start from the top. She said her restaurant has dealt with the fraternity’s “kind” before and made the final decision that they would not be able to rent the space.
The Cypress Inn’s website boasts that it holds events for clientele ranging from state government officials to University of Alabama administration and corporations. Yet it does not have enough security personnel for a mentoring event put on by professional alumni of a fraternity
The fraternity was refunded its deposit, but members still had to refund tickets that they had already sold for the event because they had advertised that it would take place at the Cypress Inn. The event was held somewhere else.
Ultimately, Kappa Alpha Psi lost money thanks to the incident because the event was a fundraiser.