Delta Township Denny’s under scrutiny for response to racist abuse

Associated Press

Lansing – Three young black women, who allege they were subjected to racial slurs and physical abuse last year at a Denny’s in Michigan, said the restaurant still has not taken action to resolve the matter.

LaMaya McGuire, 22, Jennifer McEwen, 25, and Sasha Collins, 27, all of Lansing, Mich., are shown. The women say a Delta Township Denny's ignored racial slurs directed at them by another patron.

LaMaya McGuire, 22, Jennifer McEwen, 25, and Sasha Collins, 27, all of Lansing, said the slur and subsequent attack occurred around 4 a.m. Oct. 14 at the restaurant in Delta Township. A security camera videoed the man’s female companion punching one of the three.

The incident happened after a group of four white people, later identified as biker rally attendees, entered the restaurant and were seated at a nearby table.

The women said Denny’s still has yet to take corrective action, the Lansing State Journal reported.

“That night, we were treated like animals,” said Collins. “They treated us like we did something wrong.”

The women allege that one man, who was wearing a Blue Angels motorcycle club jacket, suggested the waitress “serve them (racial slur) some T-bones.”

After their waitress ignored the remarks, Collins went to complain directly to the manager, Patrick Fort.

“I just walked up and asked, ‘Could you move them? And if they continue to say these racial slurs, could you ask them to leave?’ He said, ‘No, I cannot ask them to leave. It’s a freedom of speech,’” Collins said.

Collins tried to discuss the complaint, but Fort followed her to her table loudly asserting the bikers’ free speech rights, she noted.

When the women got upset with him, Fort told them to leave. They then requested food to go. He declined. Fort subsequently contacted deputies when they refused to leave.

McEwen said her frustration pivoted from the racial insults to the manager who wouldn’t assist them. She tried to call law enforcement at the same time he did.

Denny’s spokesman, Paul Spencer, called Fort’s actions “completely unacceptable” and said he no longer works there.

The women filed a complaint in February with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, which is pending. They’ve also sought help from the Lansing chapter of the NAACP civil rights group. Dale Copedge, president of the Lansing chapter, confirmed the organization is looking into the case.

The women said Denny’s should provide more racial sensitivity training, as well as compensation and an apology.