Casino issues apology, denial in alleged racism incident

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 Ken_Wright.jpg

Ken Wright (Screenshot/KDKA-TV Channel 2)

 

Rivers Casino management insists discrimination played no part in shutting down a July 19 party the Ruff Ryders held in its Drum Bar.

“The Drum Bar closed early last Friday due to crowd capacity and related safety concerns. Race was not a factor in the decision,” said Casino spokesman Jack Horner.

The New Pittsburgh Courier first reported the incident in its online edition July 25. At which time members of the Ruff Ryders, a Black motorcycle club, and some of their guests reported their party had been closed an hour-and-a-half ahead of the contracted time, for which the club  had paid nearly $500.

“A security guy came in, whispered to the DJ, then they shut off the music,” said club President Kenneth Wright. “A few minutes later they closed down the bar. And the party.

“The security guy, Kyle Bond, said it was because we were over capacity. Now I’ve been there on Friday nights before. The crowd was no bigger than usual, no louder than usual. The only difference was it was Blacker than usual.”

Several comments about the incident have since appeared on Facebook, with Matisha Cook noting that when security told the DJ to shut it down, he got on the microphone and said, “Too manyBlack people and not enough Whites, so we’re closing the bar.”

Wright said he personally did not here the remark, but others told him they did.  However, when reached for comment, the DJ, KISS 96.1 radio host Scottro, said he made no such statement.

“The statement below is ridiculous and untrue,” he said. “I never said those words and in fact had no microphone to make any announcements during that evening. I ended the music at the request of Rivers Casino Security and any patrons who asked why I shut the music off, I directed to Casino Security.”

Wright said he was pretty upset at the time, and still was days later because no one had returned his calls for an explanation.  

After the Courier put Wright in contact with Horner, casino Manager Craig Clark called Wright and met with him to personally apologize.

“He said it never should have happened, and that it was a miscommunication,” said Wright. “He apologized profusely and refunded all of our money.”

The Rivers also issued a press statement, again saying it was an issue of capacity and safety.

“The casino has a zero tolerance policy for racism of any kind.  The Drum Bar closed early last Friday due to crowd capacity and related safety concerns.  All groups of 50 or more are encouraged to reserve banquet rooms.  We have apologized to the Pittsburgh Ruff Ryders for any misunderstanding.”

Though the casino made no statement on whether any changes in policy or training would be made going forward, Wright said he is taking them at their word. Still, he thinks it should have been handles differently, especially after being told there was only a problem with just two guests. Rather than address them, security chose to shut everything down.

“Normally you would just remove the problem people,” said Wright. “Hell, I would have removed them myself if they’d just come to me.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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