Recap of Buffalo Wild Wings Discrimination Victims’ Press Conference

Victims of racial discrimination at the Naperville Buffalo Wild Wings last week spoke about their experience at a press conference today.

Their Story

Their group of six adults and 12 children, who are all mostly African-American, recalled how they were asked to move tables by two managers, because a restaurant regular sitting in front them was “racist” and didn’t want to be near them.

“I was appalled. I was astonished. I was in a restaurant trying to take my family, our friends, and kids to a restaurant, and I was being asked what race I was,” said Justin Vahl, one of the parents and coaches from the group.

Eventually their group left the restaurant, and Justin’s wife Mary, posted about the incident on Facebook.

“[Other Buffalo Wild Wings] staff [was] embarrassed – a lot of them. One of the staff members [was] in tears crying as we’re walking out. A couple of the kids [asked], ‘coach what’s going on? Coach, we getting kicked out?’ I said ‘no, we’re not getting kicked out. We’re just not spending our money here. We’re not appreciated here,'” said fellow coach Marcus Riley.

The Press Conference

At today’s press conference, the group said they’re not currently pursuing a lawsuit, but would like to have a conversation with Buffalo Wild Wings. Part of that discussion would include establishing employee screening and a zero tolerance policy on racism.

“We want to make sure that we can continue dialogue. We want to make sure that we can hold them accountable. We want to watch their training, we want to play a role in their training,” said Cannon Lambert, who is representing the group. “They need to hear and see the face of bigotry so they can feel it. Because when you can feel it, you know it’s real.”

Buffalo Wild Wings Response

The customer who asked for the group to not be seated next to him has now been banned from every Buffalo Wild Wings nationwide.

The restaurant also said in a statement:

“We take this incident very seriously and after conducting a thorough, internal investigation have terminated the employees involved. Buffalo Wild Wings values an inclusive environment and has zero tolerance for discrimination of any kind.”

Continuing the Conversation

“One of the things that we’re looking for from the media and from all those that talk about this [is] that you acknowledge that this happened,” added Lambert. “That’s why we say this is not alleged. It is confirmed.”

“That we’re going into 2020 and we still have to deal with systematic racism – that’s probably the most surprising part about it. But like we said it’s real, it still happens. That’s why that’s the biggest piece with us sharing this story. We didn’t expect it to get to what it is. But people need to know that it happens.”
Naperville News 17’s Aysha Ashley Househ and Christine Lena report.

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