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Racial profiling at popular Montreal bar St-Sulpice?

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

[Update below]

St-Sulpice, with its downtown location, large terrasse and relatively cheap beer, is a popular Montreal drinking-hole, and easly seats and serves hundreds of people on most nights of the summer.

But at least 7 patrons were stopped from entering the bar the night of Wednesday, Aug 24th in what appears to be a case of racial profiling.

I've contacted the management of St-Sulpice to get their version of events. According to Tristan Lalla, though, a well-known Montreal actor who is Black, he and several friends (who also happen to be Black) were blocked twice from entering the bar along with about two dozen other folks because they were dressed in "le style hip-hop" (hip hop style). They group was going for drinks following the last screenig of a film Lalla was in that showed at the Montreal World Film Festival.

One can imagine that this could entail wearing baggy clothing, sports jerseys, baseball caps to the side or backwards... But according to Lalla, we can't know for sure, since there was no signs explaining the policy, and the bouncers offered no description.

Raising even more questions is that, as Lalla explains in an open letter, one of the bouncers was arguably dressed in "le style hip hop," as well as a white patron already on the terrasse:

We were then greeted by a 2nd bouncer, an early 30's white francophone gentleman dressed in: a baseball cap, a t-shirt with a polo short sleeve over it, some scruffy looking loose-fit blue jeans, and a pair of beat up black & green Nike sneakers. 

Without hesitation, he tells us loud and proud that we may not enter due to "le style hip hop" of our group.
I'll repeat.
"le style hip hop"
. he said this. verbatim!

A loud debate ensued; with me pointing out that he had on a similar outfit to someone he was denying entry to... with some non-black guy who was already on the inside who Clearly had on way more baggy clothing than any of us...

The letter, posted on Facebook, has caused others to chime in, with on commenter saying that when working in Crescent St. bars that even Black bouncers would be told by managers to not let in more Arab or Black people.

Some bars in Montreal have instituted dress codes banning baseball caps, baggy clothing, sports jerseys, hoodies, etc. Some have said it is simply to ensure clientele dress accordingly, while there are stories that others institure such dress codes to block patrons who may be associated with gangs or, in the case of baggy clothing, could conceal weapons (I need to dig around some more to find exact references...). Even these explicit dress codes are controversial, though, as they exclude entire groups of people and can be easily applied in a discretionary fashion.

I'll post St-Sulpice's response when I get one. Below is Lalla's entire open letter. He'll also be speaking on CBC radio's Daybreak tomorrow morning (sometime between 5:30 and 8:30).

As Lalla says:

What kind of professional business still does Racist shit like that in 2011?

It will be interesting to hear the bar's answer.

 

UPDATE (Aug. 26, 11:25am): Still no word yet from St-Sulpice itself, but word about this incident is spreading. People have now established a Facebook page called "Boycott Le Saint Sulpice."

 

=====

Tristan D. Lalla's open letter, posted Aug. 25th:

 

To Gregory Bas & the Staff at Le Saint-Sulpice

this is a letter that I just posted openly online:

Last night was the 3rd & final screening of Happy Slapping, a film I am in, at the 35th Montreal World Film Festival.

Post screening, the cast & crew along with about 2 dozen friends, decided to go out for a celebratory drink.

Seeing that the movie theatre was just across the street from the Resto-Pub entrance of Le Saint-Sulpice, we decided that we should go there. (We had gone there on Sunday night after the Premiere, and had a nice evening, so we figured if it ain't broke, don't fix it...) We looked in, and at minutes to Midnight on a wednesday the place looked very quiet, and we were all in agreement that that would be ideal, as there would be seating for all of us.

The bouncer, an early 30's white francophone gentleman dressed all in black, quickly gave our group a look over at the door, and said something about our "wardrobe not meeting the dress code".

We knew what was up right away.

In our group there were about 6 or 7 black guys, 3 of which were wearing baseball caps, and one had on an Expos jersey. the bouncer's glances were clearly not on the members of our group wearing blazers and fedoras.

We thought, "this is some messed up isshh... but whatever. let's bounce."
So we decided to walk up St. Denis, to the Other side of Le Saint-Sulpice where the entrances are for the front & back Terrasses are. Again, both looking pretty uninhabited by patrons.

We were then greeted by a 2nd bouncer, an early 30's white francophone gentleman dressed in: a baseball cap, a t-shirt with a polo short sleeve over it, some scruffy looking loose-fit blue jeans, and a pair of beat up black & green Nike sneakers. 

Without hesitation, he tells us loud and proud that we may not enter due to "le style hip hop" of our group.
I'll repeat.
"le style hip hop"
. he said this. verbatim!

A loud debate ensued; with me pointing out that he had on a similar outfit to someone he was denying entry to... with some non-black guy who was already on the inside who Clearly had on way more baggy clothing than any of us...
..pure B.S., it was.

At either entrance of Le Saint-Sulpice, there are No Signs stating that: "Le Style Hip Hop" isn't welcomed (or what those doormen were really telling us was: too many Black people at once makes us very uncomfortable, even if a only a few of you have on baseball caps..."
If this is some sort of policy at Le Saint-Sulpice, someone please enlighten me.

and, if it Is a policy, hey Saint-Sulpice, your shitty policy Is Broke. Fix It.

Next time you're considering going to Le Saint-Sulpice, try not to give the bouncers a vibe that you might own any Wu-Tang albums.

They denied us entry solely based on our skin color, and in doing so lost out on much business.
What kind of professional business still does Racist shit like that in 2011?

...it IS 2011, right?

1Love.

*It should be noted that Several witnesses were present to these events, including Annakin Slayd aka Andrew Farrar (notable Montreal musician and actor), Christos Sourligas (Film director and producer), Leisa Lee (Montreal industry publicist), and several others.

Thank you for your time.
-- 
Tristan D. Lalla
http://tdlalla.weebly.com/


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1132 words

Comments

St-Sulpice

I went there with 2 of my friends ( we are all black) we got a really crappy service. I also went there with colleagues who happen to be white francophones and then got great service. I'm not sure what to think of this but my black friends and I crossed it from our hang out places. 

Racial profiling is a huge problem!

This despicable practice seems to have trickled down from the SPVM.

The following video shows a very clear case of racially motivated harrassment by authorities:

http://youtu.be/knV-_5AEst8

 

Bar Saint Sulpice

What about the racisme against francophone people ? Why do you insist about the fact that "francophone" clients had no trouble ??

What racism against

What racism against francophone people? The Sulp IS a francophone bar. It has given shitty service to anglos for a long time, and also, it seems, doesn't want dirty coloureds there either. You expect that attitude from a place in the 1950's, but today?

Is your reaction just a knee-jerk "Well what about us poor privileged?" or is there another point to your post?

As for the St-Sulp, I'm never going back there again. I don't have an accent in either language, but I refuse to give my money to bigots. Hope they shut down!

Bar Saint Sulpice

Montreal Quebec is full of racism it starts with language then it moves on to color and then nationality. I remember a time on crescent when black people had a hardtime getting into Sir Winstons and Thursdays now they give arabic people a hard time..........

racism it starts with language then it moves on to color

Read our charter of rights section 10.Instead of protecting people it protects people based on being a "minority".Things will never change as long as we as people are divided by our charter.

Police arrest me while walking my dog.They had a complaint that a "white" male had done something. I filed a complaint a the Quebec human rights stating my arrest was based on race,that there was no investigation and my evidence had been omitted. The responce was "inadmissable" "as a white person you are not a member of a visible minority group".I filed a complaint at the police ethics with the same info.Answer was "police have discretion on evidence".

For a while after every time I heard a case about "racial profiling" it wasn't the human rights commission or police ethics I got mad at it was the people filing the complaint.I felt they were asking for more rights and protections then I had and they should just shut up and live with it like I had to why should they have something I don't

I realised that it wasn't them it was the people that created the two commissions. They had created the division and the people that were filling the complaints were the ones paying.Instead of their rights being protected as people it was their skin color that was the focus.

Racial profiling involves a person of authority,an action,and a race.Instead of race it should be anouther person.

Lettre d'un staff aux clients

 Salut, En lisant cette lettre cela ne m'etonne pas du tout. Mais j'aimerais quand même rectifier le tir par rapport aux employés. Le saint-sulpice c'est un constant climat de peur, de paranoia et de méfiance. Les patrons recoivent des ordres dictées par un vieux fou de 80 quelques années. les doormans sont obligés d'obtemperé tel des chiens de garde en laisse.

Les serveurs et barmans doivent offrir du service dans un lieu insalubre et desuet.

En plus, il y a 4 fois trop de clients, donc l'ambiance est mediocre, le monde veulent se battre.

Au fond c'est deplaisant pour tout le monde d'aller la bas, sauf pour le vieux qui s'en mets plein les poches.

Faites un recours collectif,

Boycottez! De toute facon c'est insalubre, vous ne voulez pas tout savoir a propos de cette bâtisse!!

 

The term Racial profiling

Racial profiling refers to any action undertaken by a person in a situation of authority, who applies a measure – without reasonable justification or in a disproportionate way – to certain segments of the population because of their race and ethnicity.
The term "racial profiling" is just as discrimitory as what happened at the bar.What it does is it applies a measure without reasonable justification or in a disproportionate way to the "visible minorites" in the group.It also divides the people in the group based on race. Every person in the group had the right to enter but based on "race" it's only some  that can use the Quebec Human Rights Commission.If it had been just "white" people refused entry no there would be no media coverage.It looks and sounds like it was only "black" people that were discrimnated against.
 

wow, there is so much going

wow, there is so much going on in these comments.

some quick points:

-being discriminated against for being francophone isn't racism.

-reverse racism doesn't exist. white people do not experience racial discrimination the way people of colour do. it is important to acknowledge that some groups of white people have been racialized within a canadian context (an example from a workshop i attended on whiteness could be newfoundlanders) and therefore excluded from the priviledged class of "whiteness". it is however a different experience of racial exclusion that is wrapped up in white passing priviledge based on disclosure.

-a lot of these comments have nothing to do with the experiences of people of colour at this bar, and seem to have lots to do with knee-jerk defensive white people claiming they experience racism - why? why are those comments even relevent to this situation? you folks still aren't listening to people who experience racism as you are continuing to yell over them. typical and gross.

-putting the words RACE and WHITE in quotations undermines the fact that race is a real lived experience (multi-faceted and pluralistic, of course), that racial hierarchies exist in canada, and that some profit from racism while others are denied access based on racism.

 

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