accused of banning minorities
Dorchester bar denies charge by Coakley
- A group
of friends went to Peggy O’Neil’s Pub and Grille for a
winter birthday celebration, but the fete quickly soured
when some in their party were banned because of the
color of their skin, the Massachusetts attorney
general’s office alleges in a civil rights lawsuit.
left standing outside in December were African-American,
Hispanic, and Cape Verdean, said the suit, announced
yesterday. The birthday celebrant, who was white, was
already inside. She came out and tried to intervene, but
her efforts were in vain. Owner Caron O’Neil, the suit
said, refused to let the other guests come inside.
became clear that they were not going to be allowed into
Peggy O’Neil’s to celebrate their friend’s birthday, the
friends left the bar feeling hurt, confused, and
embarrassed,’’ according to the suit, filed in Suffolk
General Martha Coakley’s office alleges that the
Dorchester establishment engaged in a discriminatory and
unlawful pattern of not admitting minorities. The
diverse birthday party arrived in two groups that were
turned away separately. A third group of black women was
allegedly denied entry in April.
seeks monetary damages, civil penalties,
antidiscrimination training, and the creation of an
“No one who
lives, works, or visits Massachusetts should be
subjected to discrimination,’’ Coakley said in a
family denied the allegations, insisting that bias and
inequity are not tolerated on the bar’s premises.
we do not discriminate against anybody,’’ said O’Neil,
named in the suit as the bar’s owner. “We’re a
Dorchester neighborhood bar. That’s our customer base.’’
O’Neil’s has been in the red brick and white building
for more than 50 years. The pub, which sits on a stretch
of Dorchester Avenue bustling with Vietnamese stores and
restaurants, is named after the family matriarch,
Margaret “Peggy’’ O’Neil, who died in May.
O’Neil, Caron’s sister, said a diverse group of men and
women walk through the doors and sidle up to the bar
seven days a week.
“It’s just a
diverse crowd; it’s like anywhere,’’ she said yesterday
as a small group of regulars had afternoon cocktails and
another patron played Lotto.
alleges that Amilton Baptista and an African-American
friend did not receive a warm welcome when they arrived
in line and watched as the bar’s staff let in up to 10
white customers. But Baptista and his friend were denied
entry when their turn came to walk through the doors,
the lawsuit said.
the lawsuit said, showed the bouncer their
identification cards, proving they were well over the
legal age to enter the bar.
how much it cost to get in and were told “$10 or $15.’’