Dec. 6, 2010
BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is investigating allegations of racism at a Boston nightclub after a group of black Harvard and Yale students were kicked out of a pre-scheduled event there last month. The move comes after calls from Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, as well as the students themselves, for state officials to look into the incident.
It was a cold night in late November when a group of Harvard and Yale alumni lined up outside of Boston’s Cure Lounge for a party organized in advance by black students and alumni of both schools.
Trisha Desroiser, a third-year student at Harvard Law, said she and the other attendees hadn’t been inside for long before the music turned off and the lights came on. Although many partygoers still had full drinks in their hands, Desrosiers says staff members told them the party was over due to “technical difficulties” -- and they needed to get out.
Later, attendees received an email from the club management that explained the club’s actions in a different way. The email stated the management was concerned “that we might attract gang-bangers,” according to Desrosiers.
“What about this specific line that night makes us more likely to attract gangbangers than any other line, any other club, any other night?” Desrosiers asked WGBH’s Callie Crossley. The only reason she can come up with is the fact that they were black.
George Regan, the spokesman for Cure Lounge, denies that the club acted inappropriately. He alleges that there was a security threat present at the club.
“I’m told by both police and security people” he tells Callie Crossley, “that these individuals (at the party) were known in security circles as not people that would be in Sunday choir.”
Since the incident, City Councilor at-large Ayanna Pressley has seized the issue and called for an investigation. She says it’s important for potential discrimination cases to be investigated because they affect integrity of the city as a whole.
“If people can’t be morally outraged at the idea that people could be discriminated against in this way,” she told Crossley, “they should be appreciating the economic impact of this.”
Pressley said the incident undermines the brand of the city and its ability to attract and retain talented professionals and investors -- some of whom are African American.
For her part, Desrosiers says she doesn’t feel secure in Boston anymore – and says she plans to leave after graduation. She added that she feels for the “black Boston residents who are committed to being here for the rest of their lives.”