The NAACP on Tuesday called for a U.S. Justice Department investigation into the case of a black college student who died after a New Year’s Eve scuffle with white bouncers at a French Quarter karaoke bar.
No arrests have been made, and an autopsy has yet to establish the cause of death.
Levon Jones, a senior at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., died after a fight outside the Razzoo Club and Patio, one of a string of bars along Bourbon Street that feature loud music and cheap beer.
Police said the fight started after a worker at the nightclub denied admittance to one of Jones’ friends because his clothing did not meet the dress code. The friend was wearing a button-down shirt and jeans, police said. Friends of Jones who were at the club said four bouncers pinned Jones down and choked him.
Danatus Scott, president of the NAACP’s New Orleans branch, said the civil rights group is looking into whether the club selectively enforced a dress code to keep blacks out.
U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said it is too soon to say whether the Justice Department will conduct a formal investigation.
A lawyer for the club issued a statement defending the bouncers.
“This unfortunate incident was initiated by a physical assault on our staff by the unruly and aggressive behavior of several individuals,” Steven B. Witman said. “We believe that as events unfold it will become clear our staff acted professionally and responsibly.”
The district attorney’s office is looking into the death. New Orleans coroner Frank Minyard said his office is awaiting the results of toxicology tests.