From Calvin Gipson of And Castro For All
I would like to extend a very big and wholehearted THANK YOU to those who attended last night’s historic Entertainment Commission meeting and those who couldn’t attend but sent energy our way calling for business owner, Les Natali, to be held accountable for his racist and sexist discrimination. After a 13-month public battle, investigations, allegations, findings and protests – it was the VERY FIRST time that we heard in a public forum the stories of the complainants about the unfair and racist treatment they received at the hands of Les Natali dating back to prior than 2001. The meeting was approximately 3 hours long, was powerfully moving and extremely emotional as we heard account after account. The attendance was so amazing that the hearing room overflowed to a second room.
Approximately 27 complainants, witnesses and various community members and leaders told their stories and testified against Les Natali and his racist practices which included asking African-Americans for multiple ID’s for entry, enforcing a “no bag” policy against Black people, ejecting Black people from a business for no reason, asking Black people to prove that they had money before being allowed to enter a bar or buy a drink, and my personal story of being accused of stealing my own jacket. The evidence is overwhelmingly clear. Black, Latin and women were recipients of Natali’s racist and sexist venom.
7 people testified on behalf of Les Natali. Their stories were not only unconvincing, but their support for Les seemed weak and their evidence that Les is not a racist was nearly laughable. In closing, each commissioner expressed that they were very moved by the testimony and pledged to schedule hearings to hold Natali accountable to the law even if the parties come to resolution during the planned mediation this Saturday with former Mayor Willie Brown.
Again, thank you so much for you support as we continue this ongoing struggle. Never underestimate the power of the people! Let there be hope. Keep the faith. The battle is not over – we continue to fight for freedom and equality for everyone.