A Chicago restaurant manager has been suspended for throwing a chair at an unsuspecting black teen. The manger admitted his wrongdoing and argued that he was “defensive” following a number of alleged encounters with “black guys.”
Restaurant manager Matthew Fezzey is accused of launching a chair at Kyle Johnson after the 18-year-old walked into Poke Poke in downtown Chicago with two friends on January 2.
Fezzey reportedly became upset at the mere sight of the young men entering the establishment, yelling at them to get out or “I’ll kick your ass.” Johnson claims that’s when Fezzey swung a chair at him, hitting him on the arm, and prompting him to call the police.
Wow. This is awful. He threw a chair at this man because he has “had to fight” other black patrons? First, this guy needs to go (now). Second, if the restaurant has a legitimate security problem, they need to find a proper way to address it.
— RJ (@RiotDogChicago) January 3, 2019
Man, this hurts to see that there are people really out there that see black skin as a weapon and are afraid. Send my love to your mentee sorry this happened to him
— Kenn Cook Jr (@KennCook88) January 3, 2019
Outside the restaurant, Johnson started filming the encounter in which Fezzey can be heard apologizing for the unexpected outburst, and explaining that he was “really defensive” after two previous experiences with “black guys,” adding that he’s “not trying to be racist.” The footage has been viewed on Facebook almost 30,000 times.
Meanwhile, Chicago police said the manager claimed Johnson clenched his fists in a combative manner, reports the Washington Post. Police also say that Johnson told two other people in the restaurant that “he had something in his backpack that would end them,” which Johnson denies.
Poke Poke restaurant issued a statement over the weekend in response to the incident, announcing that Fezzey had been suspended “pending the completion of the police investigation.”
“We want to be absolutely clear that we do not tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind,” the statement continued. “There are no excuses for what happened to Kyle and for that we apologize.”
Following the release of the statement, the restaurant came under heavy fire from social media users for their decision to suspend the manager and not fire him immediately. Many threatened to boycott the establishment.
“Not enough. He should be fired. You’re not a part of the community with this type of behavior. Unacceptable,” one user posted.
“I can’t imagine why anyone would ever go to a restaurant where the employees know they can physically attack a customer without provocation and not be fired,” wrote another.
“Anytime someone says, ‘Racism has no place in today’s society,’ they lose ALL credibility,” a third chimed in. “Since when have there not been a place; today or otherwise?!!? This kid should get the best lawyer available and take you to court.”
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