If you’re black and belly up to a bar on Bourbon Street, be forewarned: You run a 50-50 chance of either being charged more or being forced to order a minimum number of drinks.
Those are the findings of a study done for the city in the wake of the death of a black college student who died in a scuffle with white bouncers outside a bar on the famous French Quarter thoroughfare.
The study, conducted by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, paired black and white men of similar body type, dress and manner, and sent them into bars within minutes of each other.
Of the 28 bars visited, 40 percent charged the black customers more for drinks. A white man, for example, bought a Long Island iced tea for $7.50, while the black man was charged $9, according to James Perry, executive director of the private, nonprofit housing center.
Ten percent of the bars informed the blacks — but not the whites — that there was a drink minimum, and 7 percent told their black customers that they would have to meet a dress code.
‘This is 2005, not 1964’
The report recommended the city take several steps, including investigating discrimination at bars and enforcing civil rights laws through litigation.
“This is 2005, not 1964, and this will not be tolerated,” said Larry Bagneris, executive director of the New Orleans Human Relations Commission.
The city attorney is also working on an ordinance regulating mandatory sensitivity training for all bar employees, use-of-force standards and the need for bouncers to immediately turn any situation over to police, said the office of Mayor Ray Nagin.
Levon Jones, a student at Georgia Southern University, together with a friend were in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve and went to Razzo Bar and Patio, a popular French Quarter club. The friend was allegedly denied admission because he did not meet the club’s dress code.
A scuffle ensued and Jones, 25, died after one bouncer held him in a headlock for 12 minutes, while another pushed down on his back and a third held his legs. The bouncers were later charged with negligent homicide. The coroner said Jones suffocated.