Raw Racism at Blufin?

Three women fight against racist treatment at Grosse Pointe Farms restaruant Blufin Sushi

February 23, 2017

What started out as a night out at Grosse Pointe Farms restaurant Blufin Sushi, escalated into a heated argument on discrimination for patrons Kim Hudson, Adrienne Savage and TaNisha Prater. This issue carried on into the week as demonstrators from various organizations as well as members of the community gathered yesterday at 5 p.m. to protest the racist treatment the three women received while at Blufin.

Demonstrators gather in front of Blufin Sushi to protest against racism in light of recent events at the Grosse Pointe Farms restaurant. (Photo by Erykah Benson ’17)

Hudson and her two friends Savage and Prater were having dinner at the bar at Blufin Sushi on Saturday, February 18. While enjoying their dinner, Hudson said she and her friends were approached by the general manager, and were asked if we were finished eating, and that if they weren’t done, were asked to move to a different area.

“After we realized what she said, we all got upset of course, I paid the bill, and then I left, came outside, then that’s when TaNisha went to the ladies room,” Hudson said.

Savage said after Prater came out of the bathroom, that was the moment where she and her friends realized that they were being discriminated against.

“We looked at each other, and it was as if a lightbulb went off for both us, like ‘what just happened here?’” Savage said. “And we’re looking around wondering why we were the ones asked to get out of our seats?”

Prater, upset, went to the front and asked to speak to the general manager, Savage said.

“When the general manager came to speak with us we realized that it was the same woman who asked us to leave,” Savage said.

Savage said after speaking with the manager, she would not cooperate in expressing the reason why they were being moved from the bar. Prater accused the manager that they were being moved because they were black. It was then that the manager refused to speak with them and asked them to leave the restaurant.

While outside, they discussed what had just happened to them. “We were in awe and in shock that what had just happened happened to us,” Prater said. “And so we decided that we were not going to leave until we got the contact information of the owner.”

I apologize to every diner who was in the restaurant or anyone that felt that their evening wasn’t a pleasant experience.”

— Joel Radu, Owner of Blufin Sushi

Prater said she went back into the restaurant to asked a server for the restaurant’s business card, and proceeded to film herself inside the restaurant on Facebook live to recall to her friends what had just happened to her. Prater said after the manager saw she was doing, she reached for the business card and Prater’s phone, which then escalated the situation.

After the manager called the police, Prater’s Facebook live footage shows Grosse Pointe Farms police officers asking the three women for identification and to recount their experience at Blufin, Blac Detroit reports.  

In an interview with The Detroit News, owner of Blufin Sushi Joel Radu said that he, “apologize(s) to every diner who was in the restaurant or anyone that felt that their evening wasn’t a pleasant experience.”

Since the apology, however, both Radu and his lawyer, David Draper, have refuted claims of racist treatment in his restaurant that weekend. Draper and Radu support their argument in their release of security camera footage of the Saturday night incident, showing a 30 minute clip of Hudson and her two friends seated at Blufin Sushi, with all ten tables full, according to a report by The Detroit News.

While Prater and her friends said that they were the only African American customers in the restaurant at the time, footage shows several other African Americans in the restaurant.

(Left) Adrienne Savage, Kim Hudson, TaNisha Prater and activists lead the demonstration in front of Blufin Sushi. (Photo by Erykah Benson ’17)

Since the incident, Prater and the two other women have been working with groups like the The Michigan People’s Defense Network to organize the demonstration that occurred yesterday.

David Soul is a member of the Michigan People’s Defense Network. According to Soul, the Michigan People’s Defense Network began a couple of months ago in light of the election of President Donald Trump, as well as reports of the recent upsurge in hate crimes throughout the United States. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that of the entire Midwest, Michigan has the highest number of hate crimes since the election.

The protest itself was a peaceful demonstration, and Grosse Pointe Farms police were notified that there would be a protest at 5 p.m., allowing police to prepare for the protest. The owner of Blufin Sushi was asked to close the restaurant for the day, according to Farms police officer Rich Rosati.

“Our relationship (with the community) is the same no matter what. We are open to all people. We respect the rights of people, regardless of color, race religion, it doesn’t matter,” Rosati said. “This is no different than any other day. We allow them (the protesters) to do what they’re doing, because they have the right to free speech.”

Since the incident, Prater said she and her friends have been working on an initiative to speak out against racism.

We all deserve fair and equitable treatment, regardless color, regardless of religion. We all deserve a seat at the table.”

— TaNisha Prater

“We’re looking to raise awareness about racial discrimination in the Pointes,” Prater said. “Racism thrives on fear and silence and we propose to speak up if this has happened to you. We’re asking for a call of action to persons who believe their behavior is reprehensible. Take the next step beyond believing it and speak up.”

Prater said she encourages individuals who do not support establishments where the culture of racism exists.

“We all deserve fair and equitable treatment, regardless color, regardless of religion,” Prater said. “We all deserve a seat at the table.”

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