The manager of a poké restaurant in Chicago is suspended after racially profiling a Black customer, and allegedly throwing a chair at the young man. His excuse? He “freaked out” and “got defensive” at the sight of a Black man.
A video posted to social media over the weekend shows Poke Poké manager Matthew Fezzey admitting to hurling a chair at a customer identified only as Kyle. Chicago police confirm to Atlanta Black Star that the incident took place January 2.
“I’m f—–g in the wrong. This is the second time in a row, third time in a row. Two days ago — and I’m not trying to be racist — two Black guys robbed two people right here…,” Fezzey explains in the video taken outside the Hawaiian eatery on Wabash Avenue this past weekend.
“Sir, but you threw a chair at me,” Kyle responds. “I’m not those guys.”
Fezzey continues trying to rationalize his violent behavior, ultimately admitting his actions were fueled by prejudicial notions about the young man’s race. He tells Kyle, “Listen, two days ago I had two Black guys. I actually fought them in here.”
“They tried threatening one of my employees, and I had to fight them,” Fezzey maintained. “When you guys came in here, I just got really f—–g defensive, really defensive because I had to fight them off all the time. These security guards over here don’t do a f—–g thing.”
The manager expressed remorse over the incident but claimed throwing the chair was his “first instinct” due to all the recent fights.
“As a human being, I shouldn’t have done that s–t,” he says, looking into the camera. “It was wrong, I’m not gonna lie man. S–t, I freaked out.”
The incident sparked angry reactions across social media, with critics calling for Fezzey’s firing.
“Sooooooo all Black people just fight all the time. Got it,” one Twitter user commented. “This way of thinking from white people has to stop one day.”
“The manager admitted to assaulting this man based ONLY on his race, which is a HATE CRIME,” a Facebook user opined. “He should be arrested, fired and the young man should sue the restaurant for discrimination.”
A man purporting to be a longtime mentor of Kyle’s also came to his defense, writing, “This manager must be fired immediately and an immediate boycott of this restaurant! I can not believe this but as (Kyle) was taught, he stayed professional, didn’t fight him, filed a police report & recorded this video.”
A person claiming to know the manager also weighed in, however, and suggested there’s much more to the story.
“Matt isn’t a racist,” FB user Danny Chavo wrote. “He has friends and family of color. And Kyle/john isn’t a victim like he claims to be either. He was trying to fight with a customer when he was told nicely to leave the store three times. That is when the chair [throwing] happened, which I don’t agree with.”
Chavo went on to claim that Kyle was armed with a gun “and threatened all the coworkers that he was gonna ‘end’ everyone.” Fezzey does not make or allude to any of these claims in the video, however, and admits his actions were based on fear alone.
When contacted by Atlanta Black Star, the Chicago Police Department confirmed only that over the weekend at the restaurant there was an incident that led to a police report being filed, but no charges were brought, and the complainant’s name is not available.
Poke Poké posted a statement on their Facebook page noting that Fezzey has been suspended pending a police investigation into the incident. “We deeply regret the recent incident that happened involving Kyle and our manager. How our manager reacted to the situation was absolutely unacceptable and against what we stand for. As such, we are fully cooperating with law enforcement on the matter, and we have suspended our manager pending the completion of the police investigation.”
The restaurant, which describes itself as a “minority owned and operated establishment,” posted a separate statement on Instagram saying it “does not tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind.”
“We are taking this matter very seriously,” the post read. “Racism has no place in today’s society and no one should ever be judged on the color of their skin. There are no excuses for what happened to Kyle and for that we apologize.”
Watch more in the clip below.
EMERGENCY: Everyone knows my longest mentee Kyle, he was racially profiled today at Poke Poke on Wabash by Matthew Fezzey. Matthew claims he fought two “black guys” the other day prompting him to get defensive and throw a CHAIR at Kyle. John this manager must be fired immediately and an immediate boycott of this restaurant! I can not believe this but as he was taught, he stayed professional, didn’t fight him, filed a police report & recorded this video. SHARE like wildfire. CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, Fox, Martin!
Posted by Ja'Mal D Green on Wednesday, January 2, 2019