Friday, April 09, 2010

Diversity Watch: Asia Gardens Bar In Anchorage, Alaska Under Fire For Allegedly Refusing To Admit Polynesians Because Of Their Race

Update late April 9th: Mainstream media outlets pick up story, accounts referenced and posted in this updated post.

Here's a relatively infrequent example of diversity breaking down in Anchorage, Alaska. An Asian restaurant-bar complex allegedly refused to allow some Polynesians to enter their premises, and the manager who denied them entrance is White. The media story has been posted on Anchorage Daily News reporter Julia O'Malley's blog, and it's based upon a blog post by Movin' 104.9 radio personality Corinna Delgado.

Summary: The incident occurred on the night of Friday April 2nd, 2010. A number of Polynesians accompanied by Delgado visited Asia Gardens to celebrate the 30th birthday of one of them. Upon arrival, as they attempted to enter the place, they were told by the White manager that they couldn't enter, allegedly because they were Polynesian. Delgado tried to change his mind, but the manager refused and got rude. At the same time, a visibly intoxicated man stumbled out of the bar and headed towards his truck. Fearful that he was going to drive, one of the party called police. Two girls came over and steered the guy away from his truck and towards a cab. When the police officer arrived, she told the party that the restaurant had the right to refuse service to anyone.

This, of course, is not completely true. Civil rights laws prohibit denial of service to someone solely because of race (though a business owner can deny service for other reasons, like not meeting a dress code, etc). But no one has filed any formal complaints yet. The Anchorage Daily News has made two videos available; the first records the complaints of some of the Polynesians, and the second the response by Asia Gardens. I originally embedded the videos here, but have since removed them because they were slowing down loading of this site too much.

In the first video, the individuals state that it was the bar owner, Fei Harding, who said she doesn't like to let Islanders into her bar and asked them to leave. They claim she said that all Islanders look alike. The second video documents the response of the bar owner, Fei Harding. More facts come out. It turns out there had been a stabbing involving Samoans two weeks earlier (KTVA Channel 11 reports the previous incident took place on January 31st). So when the manager and the owner saw a bunch of Polynesians trying to enter the bar, they thought they might be associates of the previous group and elected to ban them, fearing trouble. It appears that the owner had instructed the manager to do this. Fei Harding denies refusing entry to her restaurant to anyone because of race, but said she had selectively denied entry for suspected troublemakers to the bar in the past. But she says she doesn't do it on the basis of race, and feels she's being witch-hunted.

Based upon the comments posted to Corinna Delgado's blog, it appears Brendan Joel Kelley of the Anchorage Press is interested in this story, and we can probably expect to see a report in their next weekly edition on April 15th. The majority of other commenters chose to punch their diversity tickets and join in the ritual Orwellian "Two Minutes Of Hate" denunciation of Asia Gardens. However, there were a number of courageous, independent-minded souls who chose to swim against the tide; some even speculated that Corinna Delgado might be blowing this out of proportion to goose her station's reputed moribund ratings:

John T said... I am willing to bet a shiny nickel that Asia Gardens policy was not instituted because of racism. And I would put up another shiny nickel and bet that what you say the manager said to you and your friends was embellished to make this seem more sensational. If I'm wrong, well then I'm out two shiny nickels.

Now, do I think the policy is right? I gotta put myself in the shoes of the owner. Perhaps there have been enough negative incidents involving certain people of an ethnic background. Perhaps the only way the owner can protect their employees and their establishment is by refusing to allow entry those who make the environment dangerous.

Instead of leading a witch hunt and screaming about civil rights, maybe you should find out the reasons why Polynesians are not allowed to enter Asia Gardens. April 8, 2010 9:33 AM .

Anonymous said... The story does not sound credible. People do not behave and act as described unprovoked. Even the author admits she was not present and does not have first hand knowledge why her friends were kicked out of the establishment. Well behaved patrons do not get treated as the author described. Something sounds fishy about this story. April 8, 2010 5:12 PM.

Anonymous said... I know the owner very well, and I can attest that she is one of the sweetest, kindest, most loved people you will ever meet. However, she has had problems with people fighting or causing trouble in her establishment, and she is trying to keep the trouble out. I think she's pretty damned brave to speak out against problem makers, rather than laying down and taking the bullshit, simply because it is politically incorrect. Hey, if people would act decently, they would be treated decently. If people treat a person's business with respect, they will be treated with respect.

However, it sounds like this group of people proved the restaurant's decision as the correct one - as they are now trying to fire up the public against a Chinese Restaurant! So what do you have against the Chinese? Geesh - now go wipe your sniveling noses and go get a life. You won't be changing my mind of who causes trouble and who doesn't. You just caused a whole mess of chit, and hopefully the loyal patrons won't forget it! I, for one, will make sure that other patrons, who like PEACE, will know who Corrine is and what station she is on, so we will make sure to boycott her and the station who supports her. I guess I am a hater - I HATE TROUBLEMAKERS!!!!

Now, excuse me - my delicious Shrimp Foo Yong is ready to go....Yum Yum!!! April 8, 2010 7:05 PM

This dispute needs an educational resolution, not a civil rights witch hunt. I say bring the two sides together, make amends, and have the bar owner comp the Polynesians a couple of drinks apiece on their next visit. Leave the civil rights commissars out of this; they just make our lives miserable. Let's resolve this issue like mature adults; fuck Uncle Sam!

1 comment:

  1. I am sorry but when I heard the troublemakers were no longer welcome, I must admit I was relieved. Granted they don’t get into a fight every time they show up and they aren’t the only ones that get into fights but a large percentage of the fights and some of the most brutal beat downs are within this one group. It has actually happen frequent enough that many people leave as soon as they show up. After the fight that left one guy in the hospital because he was kicked so badly while on the ground, and left another stabbed for trying to help (not to mention the bartender who was injured) Asia Garden has elected to refuse service. Good for them. Will this particular group of troublemakers stop and think “maybe we shouldn’t get into fights all the time”? I hope so. People come here to relax, sing a song and have a good time - AG has a very diverse mix of people, which is one of the things that make it so appealing. All age groups and races seem to be able to get along and have a good time with very little conflict with the exception of this one group. BTW a polynesian friend of mine was admitted last night with no trouble at all.