feed the beast

Gaslamp Claims Bar Employees Receiving Death Threats Following Racism Accusations

by Angelica Leicht Posted: 09-14-15 | 2 years ago
gaslamp houston
Photo Credit: Brandon Ball / Facebook The Gaslamp in Midtown

The door men at Gaslamp who were accused of racial discrimination in a recent Facebook post by a Houston attorney now say they are receiving death threats in response.

Here’s what happened, in case you’ve been taking a Facebook sabbatical or something. Over the weekend, a Houston attorney by the name of Brandon Ball made a very poised, poignant post to Facebook, in which he accuses the Midtown bar Gaslamp of discriminating against African American patrons.

According to Brandon’s post, he and some friends attempted to visit Gaslamp, the bar right next door to Dogwood in Midtown, and when they approached, they found that the doormen were charging black patrons $20 to get in, while letting groups of white patrons in with no cover.

That mysterious cover charge — which the men say they did not pay (because they went over to Dogwood instead) — was asked of not only Brandon and his two friends, Ken Piggee and Dan Scarborough, but other minority patrons as well.

Brandon says they know this because they watched it continue to happen from a distance, and then asked both the HPD officer providing security and the door guys what the hell was going on.

Oh, it’s probably better if the person who was there tells you. Here’s the whole story, according to Brandon Ball’s Facebook post:

PLEASE READ. PLEASE SHARE.

My name is Brandon Ball. I am 32 years old. I am African American. Tonight I was with my friends Dan Scarbrough (42) and Ken Piggee (43). Both are also African American. We were in the Midtown area of Houston, TX tonight and tried to go into The Gaslamp. Both Dan and Ken had on blazers. I had on a button up and slacks. When we walked up the guy at the door told us $20 each (pictured below in the long sleeve shirt). We didn’t want to pay that amount so we decided to go to the next bar down, The Dogwood, which was free. 

After about 30 minutes we left The Dogwood and were walking back. As we passed The Gaslamp we noticed folks walking into The Gaslamp without having to pay. Those folks who didn’t have to pay were white. I brought this to Dan’s attention a few minutes later and he said we should go back and just watch from across the street to see if there was some “funny business” going on.

Ken, Dan, and I went back and watched from across the street as the guys who were working the front door of The Gaslamp (pictured) allowed white people to come in one after the other. Every black person who we watched try to go in was told there was a $20 cover or that their attire was not proper. One black guy was told that he could not get in because he had on Polo Boots.

Dan spoke to several people who were told there was a $20 cover and they pretty much all said the same thing. It was not just blacks they were charging. It was people of both Asain and Latin decent.

I again tried to walk in and was told there was a $20 cover. This was right after I had just seen a group of white guys walk right in.

I finally went and spoke to the cop (also pictured) who was working the door (who is a minority himself) and asked him if he was aware and comfortable with how the door guys were conducting business. His reply was basically…”I just work and do my job and those guys over there do their job.” I told him he was complicit but he blew me off.

I then took pictures of the two main guys at the front door (pictured below) and both of them began to ask if I had a problem. The one in the short sleeved shirt went as far to tell me that he hoped I didn’t “run up on him in the streets because it would be a problem.”

Why does this matter to me? Why is this important? If I have to answer that please just move along. This post is not meant for you. This event occurred in the late night of Sept. 11th. A day in which we as a country are supposed to come together. But events like this just tells us how far apart we are.

Please share this. Please pass along. Please read this and understand what type of establishment The Gaslamp is. If you were at The Gaslamp on this night and had a similar experience please comment and share. Don’t let actions such as this continue with no recourse. If you know the guys working the door let them see this. Please let them. Remember, this is 2015.

The photos from Ball's Facebook post.
The photos from Ball’s Facebook post.

Brandon’s post included photos of their attire that night, as well as pictures of the HPD officer and the Gaslamp doormen.

As of Monday morning, Brandon’s post had been shared over 9,600 times, with handfuls of commenters ringing in on similar experiences they’ve had with the Midtown bar.

An attorney for Gaslamp addressed the allegations with KHOU, stating that the midtown establishment “has been mischaracterized.”

“We see a lot of people rushing to judgment,” said Tim Sutherland. “And that’s fine to get behind a movement but you should explore all the facts.”

Sutherland also stated that the two door guys at Gaslamp, whose pictures appear in the post, “have been receiving death threats over what happened,” and that the club “has received threats of violence.”

According to Sutherland, the men were charged the $20 cover because they wanted to access one of the upper-level bars, which are only open to bar VIP…or something.

But Brandon and his friends deny wanting any VIP access, saying they were just trying to get in the door of Gaslamp instead.

The magic of Facebook?
The magic of Facebook?

This is hardly the first time Gaslamp has been accused of unfair treatment by would-be patrons. A “Boycott Gaslamp” Facebook page was active well before Ball’s Facebook post was made, but it appears to have been taken down at some point over the weekend.

“The Gaslamp is an example for things that need to change all over America,” Brandon Ball told KHOU. “And hopefully the post puts a little dent in that.”

Let’s hope, anyway.

The owners of Gaslamp also own a couple other Houston drinking establishments — including Elysium and Gaslamp Terrace, which we’re assuming is the rooftop the bar’s attorney was referring to — but we’ve got no clue if those bars also have a problem with folks who have melanin.

It’s time to just maybe stay the hell out of Midtown, folks. These Gaslamp accusations are hardly the first to come out of that area — bars in Midtown are accused of this type of behavior pretty regularly — and just a quick Google search will give you all you need to know. But maybe have some booze at your desk first. You’ll need it.

Angelica Leicht

“As a former alt-weekly writer and editor, Angelica has plenty of experience in listicles and fighting the man. She now spends most of her time side-eying and listening to terrible pop music while plotting how to raise a little Texas-bred hell.”

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