Video released in alleged racial incident at Blufin Sushi
GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (WJBK) - The owner of a Grosse Pointe Farms restaurant is hoping surveillance video will shed new light on a confrontation between one of his employees and a group of customers. Three African-American women have accused the staff of discrimination with the incident sparking intense backlash on social media.
"You're racist - and you asked for us to leave," said Taneisha Prater in a Facebook video. "You chose the only black people in the bar - I'm not going anywhere."
The restaurant was closed Wednesday as protesters gathered outside.
It is the Facebook Live video that went viral - Taneisha Prater and two friends out for dinner Saturday night at Blufin Sushi in Grosse Pointe Farms. The restaurant's surveillance footage shows at 8:30 p.m., the general manager asked the three African-American women to relocate to another table so other customers could be seated for dinner.
A receipt shows the women had been there since 6:30 p.m., and had already eaten. Video shows they cash out but then - they appear to question what happened.
"Were we just targeted," said Kimberly Hudson. "Because there were other people at the bar - why did you reach out to us?"
"There were other people at the bar and she only approached our group," said Adrienne Savage.
The women allege it was racial discrimination while an attorney for the restaurant says it wasn't anything of the sort.
"There was no racism - there was no assault at Blufin Saturday night or anytime," said attorney David Draper. "They've all said there were no African-American faces in that restaurant that night - that's absolutely inaccurate. There were four other tables in a tiny 60 seat restaurant, with other African-Americans in the restaurant. We welcome all customers."
But the women were the only African-Americans seated at the bar. However the menu asks that customers "relinquish their tables after an hour and 45 minutes due to limited space."
The restaurant's surveillance cameras show the women questioning the manager - it appears to get heated. They leave and eight minutes later Prater comes back to get a business card and goes on Facebook Live.
The manager is seen calling the police as another employee watches - Prater is seen going to talk to the manager while on Facebook Live.
"There are women that are going after the manager," Draper said. "The manager is 5 feet tall and maybe 100 pounds. She is not the aggressor at any time."
Draper says they're trying to set the record straight. Clearly there's no audio on the surveillance cameras so it's unclear what exactly was said - but Draper says the allegations have had a negative impact on the restaurant and its employees.
"I hope we can all move past this," Draper said. "Because it's cost a lot of regular working people cash and their jobs. The servers are just trying to pay their rent, their babysitters and that sort of stuff. They are not trying to do anything other than get on with their life."
The owner has apologized and refunded the dinner and drinks from that night. The restaurant is planning to reopen Thursday night.