Sisters of Delta Sigma Theta sorority were racially profiled by police and restaurant workers at a Bahama Breeze restaurant. The group was targeted even though no crime was committed.
According to the police report, one woman (not a sorority member) who was dining with them in Orange Village, Ohio, threatened to leave the restaurant without paying after waiting almost 30 minutes for her bill.
The woman did in fact wait and pay her tab, but the police were called anyway and stood and waited to make sure the rest of the group — which was spread out among multiple tables as there were about 40 people — paid. An unnamed female manager reportedly made the call to police, who arrived at about 8:30 pm and stayed at the restaurant for an hour.
Also citing the police report, Cleveland.com reported that the manager said the group became irritated and caused a “disturbance” while waiting for their checks. They also reportedly directed foul language at the manager.
“Police were standing there to make sure everyone paid, which we felt was racial profiling,” Chante Spencer, a member of the sorority, told Cleveland.com. (Spencer emphasized that she was speaking as a Bahama Breeze customer and not on behalf of Delta Sigma Theta.)
Spencer also denied that anyone threatened to leave without paying.
Delta Sigma Theta is a historically Black sorority whose members include former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. According to Cleveland.com, patrons included “a doctor, a judge, educators and other professionals from the Cleveland area.”
Bahama Breeze is part of the Darden company, which includes a multitude of restaurants throughout the country: LongHorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Eddie V’s Prime Seafood, The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Yard House and Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen. Darden’s leadership consists of 19 people, of which only two are women and almost everyone is white.
Rich Jeffers, Darden’s senior director of communications, told Cleveland.com that they invited the women back to the restaurant “in order to provide an exceptional Bahama Breeze experience.”
Rather than an invite back to the restaurant, though, Spencer told the website she would like to see change.
“I am hoping that Bahama Breeze looks at this very carefully and alters policies and does some more training,” she said. “You cannot make assumptions that people are going to commit a crime based on how they look.”
Perhaps Bahama Breeze should have looked at this about a decade ago.
In 2009 the very same location settled a racial harassment lawsuit for $1.26 million. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit in 2008 on behalf of 37 Black workers from that location who said they were harassed and subjected to racial slurs by managers, who also denied the employees breaks and made fun of them.