Friday, April 09, 2010

Mainstream Media Picks Up On The Asia Gardens "Discrimination" Story In Anchorage; Samoans To Boycott But Won't Seek Civil Rights Action

In my previous post, I related reports from ADN blogger Julia O'Malley and Movin' 104.9 radio personality Corinna Delgado about the Asia Gardens bar allegedly discriminating against Polynesians by refusing to let them in. While Corinna Delgado said that a White bouncer was the one who refused to let her friends in, several of the Samoans say the bar owner, Fei Harding, who asked them to leave.

Now we have a couple of other local mainstream reports. The first is from KTUU Channel 2.

"I told her, ‘Well, I'm here to celebrate my birthday, celebrate other friends' birthdays and stuff,'" said Paepaega Uti, one of the people refused service. "And she's like, ‘Oh, no, no, you guys cause too much trouble.' Then my wife, she was like, ‘Well, how do you know it was my husband?' And she was like, ‘Well, you guys all look alike.' I was like, ‘What?' I was like, ‘Are you serious? We all look alike?'"

The owner, a woman named Fei who wouldn't give her last name, says she is not racist. "Because I am a minority myself and a little business owner, I have no -- you know, I won't do that," Fei said. "I just wanted -- my business, I thought I did the right thing. Maybe I was, I don't know, but I think they took all the wrong -- I think probably just bad communication, you know?"

But those denied access to the bar aren't buying what the owner is saying. "Because of something somebody did, I have to pay for it?" Uti said. "It's just wrong, man. I know I'm an islander, but geez -- you don't have to go telling me, ‘You guys stab people, you guys all look alike.'"

KTVA Channel 11 filed a story without video. They brought out the point that the previous stabbing which took place at the bar, which the owner used to justify her refusal to allow the Samoan group in, occurred back on January 31st. KTVA also reported reaction from the disputing parties "The lady [bar owner] said ‘I'm sorry. If you are Islanders you cannot come in here,' and I said ‘why is that?' and she said ‘well, we had some trouble a few weeks ago with some Islanders and since you all look the same to me, you can't come in here,'" said Lotu Uti, one of the people in the group claiming they were discriminated against.

The bar owner said, “Big misunderstanding, you know. I'm not racial. I've been here 33 years. I'm really sorry they took the meaning like that you know. They are welcome here and everything".

KIMO Channel 13 also picked up the story. Watch their news video below:

For right now, the Samoans are handling it in a mature fashion. They don't plan to sic a bunch of Federal civil rights enforcers on the bar; instead, they intend to exercise the power of the purse and boycott the place. A surprising number of commenters to these various stories are defending the right of the bar owner to restrict entry to her establishment; some have had unpleasant experiences with Polynesians. Comments below from the KTUU story:

ghostrider13 April 9th 3:22:00 PM
i agree,,,,,most of the Islanders I know,,,,when they get tanked up on alcohol are just totally rude, and obnoxious. Because they is soo Physically Bigger than most of us,,,,they love to throw their weight around and bully others into submission...Personally if I was a bar owner with a nice resturant like Fei has,,,,I wouldnt allow them in either,,,,,most of the time,,,,they are just bad for business........PERIOD.......and they scare the other patrons.

And for a Radio Host to take her objections on her show is just wrong,,,,if I was the station mgr........I'd be looking for another Radio Personality...........keep your personal problems and dining and drinking episodes too yourself,,,,,the rest of us got bigger things to worry about then your pride being offended

Bill April 9th 3:03:13 PM
They have the right to refuse service to anyone and I would do the same. Too bad, stop your crying and go elsewhere.

KaiserSosay April 9th 2:24:53 PM
I am not supporting this owner or her actions, but what is lost in all of this is it is her resteraunt and she can refuse service to anyone. If she is a bigot or racist or what ever she is entitled to that, like wise people are entitled to vote with their pocket books.

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