Home News Concordia student mulls lawsuit

Concordia student mulls lawsuit

by Archives November 11, 2008

A Concordia student is considering legal action against Sir Winston Churchill Pub after he said he was discriminated against when he was refused entry last weekend.
Courtney Bishop said security at the Crescent Street bar didn’t let him in, then called the police because of his colour of skin – not because his outfit violated the dress code, as he was told that night.
To Bishop, his experience represents a bigger problem. “A person, white, black, Chinese, Middle Eastern should not have to deal with this type of issue,” he said. “People need to be aware that discrimination is still in society.”
Although Bishop is somewhat surprised that racial discrimination is still rampant, many Montrealers are well aware, experiencing it on a daily basis.
“We receive about three to four calls a week from people who want to report an incident,” said Fo Niemi, executive director at the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations. The centre provides support and resources for victims of racial discrimination. “Unfortunately, most of the victims don’t go through with the claims, either because they’re afraid or because they don’t have the resources,” he said.
CARR is encouraging Bishop to take legal action against Sir Winston’s, offering to represent him. “He should know what his civil rights are,” Niemi said, “so that he can know if they were being violated.”
On the night in question, Bishop, a fullback for Concordia’s rugby team, was celebrating the end of the season with about 10 of his teammates. He was the only one refused entry to the bar; he says it’s because he was the only black person in the group.
Jan Wilson, general manager at Sir Winston’s, said Bishop arrived at the bar alone, a while after his teammates. “There’s a possibility he could have been let in if he came with the group,” she said. “But he still would have had to fix his clothes a bit.”
Wilson said the dress code is clearly printed outside the front door and is always enforced.
Bishop admitted that when he wasn’t allowed in, there was some yelling and a few “friendly shoves.” But both were harmless, so he and his friends left the bar. He never expected to be stopped by police moments after walking away from the bar.
A patron at the bar was seated close to the door when the altercation between Bishop and the doorman escalated. The patron overheard Bishop say something about a gun then alerted the manager on duty.
“It’s unfortunate the event escalated to the point where the manager had to call the cops,” Wilson said. “But he was just doing his job.”
When police stopped Bishop, he said they forced him to the ground, handcuffed him, pointed a gun at his head and searched him. The search didn’t turn up a firearm.
Niemi says racial discrimination affects mostly young black men. “But increasingly,” he said, “we’re seeing it happen to more young males from the Middle East, from Hispanic backgrounds, and young Filipino men.”
Even with the support of his family and teammates, Bishop is emotionally wrought. “I’ve been reflecting about me and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I know that when I’m thinking about it a lot it’s bothering me.”
For now, Bishop is still trying to wrap his head around the whole situation. “It’s honestly like it’s not even my life that’s going on right now.”
Bishop is currently seeking legal advice on how to take Sir Winston’s to court. “I need to talk to legal counsel, I’m going to just wait and see what they have to say about it.”
With files from Kelly Greig

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