Austin community takes action against Rainey Street bar
Members of the Austin community are calling for action after claims that the owner of UnBARlievable condoned racist behavior.
The Rainey Street bar has agreed to donate Friday night's proceeds to a community nonprofit, but community leaders have simultaneously called for a boycott of the business.
A banner outside UnBARlievable reads "Dear Austin, we're sorry."
Brandon Cash, the bar's owner made that same statement earlier this week, but many in the community said an apology doesn't go far enough. They would like to see Cash cut ties with the bar altogether.
"I'm here this afternoon to ask that every Austinite stay away from this bar, protest, do not give him a dime of your money," said Austin City Councilman Pio Renteria, District 3.
This comes after Controversial actions by staff members at UnBARlievable were brought to light on social media. A woman, wishing to remain anonymous, posted on Facebook about an incident she claims to have witnessed at the bar back in March.
She wrote in part, "table next to us ordered a lot of beers and the worker brought the beers out then put them in the shape of a swastika." She also said she informed the bar owner and he didn't care.
"When you have people that work for you, they work for you. Why not address diversity and understanding? I can't believe somebody would do that without feeling that it was okay to do, so I think you hold the whole place accountable," said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said there is an open investigation into the bar.
"Keep in mind that a liquor license is not a right, it is a privilege and we are laying down the line and saying if you cross, if you disrespect, if you're racist, you do not deserve to have a liquor license. You will be investigated and it will be taken away," said community activist Christian Rodriguez.
There are also claims that the bar was posting racist remarks in response to negative feedback on Yelp.
If those posts did exist, they have since been deleted.
"We are living in a time when racists are no longer concerned about the consequences. Their attitudes and feelings are now out in the open with no respect to morals or values," said another community activist Marco Mancillas.
Cash released a statement regarding the allegations. It reads in part, "I've witnessed the overwhelming anger in direct response to my deplorable conduct and I want to assure everyone that I have taken it to heart. To the austin community embarrassed by my actions and to those individuals I have personally offended, I apologize. I will be making immediate changes to our personal conduct and interactions with our patrons."
Linder said this isn't the first time racism has occurred at an Austin business and it won't be the last.
He said the best way to stop it is enforcement.
"The city has an ordinance, but it's not being enforced enough and these restaurants apparently are not aware this all exists. If you go into a business, make sure you tell them racism in this city is against the law. The ordinance says so in Title V Civil Rights Act. We're not doing that and so these people joke, they tell a joke and they get away with it, unfortunately, for the most part," said Linder.
Cash sat down with concerned members of the community to discuss the situation at his bar Friday.
He said while he is not planning to cut ties with the bar, he is hoping to keep an open dialogue with community leaders. Other establishments on Rainey Street have put up signs reading, "Bars against bigotry," in response to the situation.