Indy man says Geist restaurant told him ‘no more black people allowed’

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INDIANAPOLIS — An Indianapolis man says he was not allowed in a Geist restaurant because he’s black and that he has the video to prove it.

“Going through the entrance, the security guard told us that they weren’t allowing any more black people in,” the man told FOX59 on Thursday. He doesn’t want to show his face, but wants you to see the video and hear his story.

He says at first, he thought it was a joke.

“I was surprised. Kind of dumbfounded. I thought it was a joke, but after he said it several times, he was serious.”

In the video clip, you can hear the man ask the Rehab security guard repeatedly for confirmation that he was told not to let in any more black people and he says yes.

The man asks if that came from his manager and the guard replies it came from his boss.

It was Sunday, June 1, the first Sunday of Rehab at Bella Vita Lakeside, a popular summer outdoor party at the lakeside Geist restaurant.

Bella Vita works with Switch District, a promotion company, for the Rehab events.

Sinclair Wheeler is co-founder of Switch District.

“I’m appalled to be honest,” said Wheeler. “Switch District and Bella Vita alone have zero tolerance for discrimination, segregation, or disrespect.”

“That gentleman that sent that video wasn’t the only person that didn’t get in that day. I assure you that there were white people, black people, guys, girls that weren’t getting in because it’s a capacity issue. It’s a crowd. It’s an upscale place. It’s a strict dress code.”

“But you can see why he would think it’s because he’s black?” asked FOX59 reporter Lindy Thackston.

“Yes and it’s horrible,” said Wheeler. “That guy was new, it was his first shift at Bella Vita and I think what happened is that you have to have an attitude there and they instilled in this guy that you have to be brash and he took brash to a whole other light.”

“Things happen and the gentleman that was on the video we have addressed and he’s since been terminated,” said Wheeler.

At news of his termination, the man who shot the video said, “I feel sorry for him because I mean, he should’ve had enough sense not to say that, but at the same time I think his manager told him to say it.”

Wheeler says that’s not true.

“It’s not an all-white party or I wouldn’t be allowed to go. It happened and it’s horrible, but if you come to our party on a Sunday, you will see that it’s not a race-driven party.”

Meanwhile, an initial complaint has been filed with the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. The man filed it the next day.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission says there are no other complaints in their system against Bella Vita.

“I just don’t want this to happen to anybody period, of my color or any other color or race.”

Wheeler says, “It’s been addressed and resolved and we’d like to move forward.”

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