Friday, April 18, 2008

Not a Pretty Scene in Claremont

42nd Street Bagel
Originally uploaded by tomchat
This letter is being reprinted from Saturday's Claremont Courier:

"In shock

Dear Editor:

I’m still in shock after witnessing a blatant racist attack last week at 42nd Street Bagel. While having coffee on Tuesday morning, April 1st, I noticed a woman of color standing alone at the counter waiting to place her order. A rather large, older man wearing a “David Duke for President” T-shirt came up behind her, reached over her and slammed his travel mug on the counter in front of her. She picked it up and set it aside, explaining that she was waiting to be served. He proceeded to reach over her and slam the cup down again, and began a racist, misogynistic tirade, shouting “(Explicative) you, you (explicative)! You (explicative-explicative)!” and more, continuing to shout a barrage of foul words in her face, verbally attacking and berating her while she quietly stood there. A hushed silence prevailed in the small shop and the young waitress who appeared didn’t seem to know what to do. When the women of color asked to speak to the manager, the young waitress went to the back and got her, and the woman of color proceeded to tell the manager what had happened. (Remember David Duke was Grand Wizard of the KKK in the ‘70s.)

Now here’s the really shocking part—the manager listened briefly, and then she proceeded to call the “David Duke” enthusiastically over to the counter and personally got him his coffee! He made a big production of thanking her, and then continued to mutter in the filthiest language while he swaggered across the room and sat down. The woman of color had disappeared, and I guess it was supposed to be back to business as usual.

Shocked and offended, I walked back to speak to the manager. Another customer was already there demanding that the man at least be asked to leave. I told the manager how offensive the incident was and asked her to ask the man to leave as well. The manager, who said her name was Jennifer, explained that the man was a “regular, paying customer” and not a racist. Unfortunately, that was just about all she had to say. She had no comment on the horrible incident, the woman who was verbally attacked or on the 3- to 4-year-old girl and others who had been sitting a few feet away witnessing this vicious attack.

So the clueless manager managed to keep a paying customer—the “David Duke” supporter—but lost my friend and me. We will never go there again. And from the looks of the others, who were also shocked and offended and had walked out, may have lost many others. Yes, the “David Duke” supporter has a right to wear his T-shirt, as offensive as it may be, but an unprovoked vicious, verbal attack such as the one I witnessed is not acceptable under any circumstances and should never be condoned or ignored by the management.

I’ve lived in Claremont for over 30 years, have gone to 42nd Street Bagel for coffee and bagels since it opened and have spent many pleasant hours there with friends. Now I won’t go back and will tell everyone else I can about this racist incident that was ignored and seemed to be condoned by the management. I’m glad I spoke with the manager to let her know how offensive her handling of the situation was even though my words fell on deaf ears, but I regret that I didn’t get a chance to say anything to the woman of color who, after the horrible confrontation, left alone. If she is reading this, I’m sorry you had to experience such a horrible attack and then have it compounded by it being ignored. You did not deserve that.

The tone and poor handling of the situation at a former, local gathering place was very sad, inexcusable and shocking in the “5th Best Place to Live” in the USA.

Name withheld by request



Anonymous said...

Wow! That is shocking!
Thank goodness there were witnesses to his hateful show. I am sure that the storm caused by the letter to the editor will have repercussions for the bagel joint. As it should.
"David Duke for President" on a t-shirt.... hopefully it wasn't a big seller.

John Clifford said...

Yes, but Pomona still gets the rep as dangerous and less civilized.

Anonymous said...

What I find shocking is that there are people that find it shocking to encounter a racist in Claremont. When white flight was taking place in Pomona, guess where all the families moved to? Claremont of course. The whitest city in the valley.

Garrett Sawyer said...

Exactly anonymous above me! I was thinking just that. That is where a lot of the racist whites moved to. lol. I wouldn't say all of them are racist, but some of them were, some of the rest were just not ready to become accustomed to being around other races or ethnicities just yet. I'm appalled, but not shocked. Southern California is the most diverse melting pot in the world some would say, so I believe racism happens around every corner of it. It is somewhat sad that not every resident of so cal. has learned to be accepting after more than half a century of being a rainbow of people.

Anonymous said...

Racism is alive and well in Claremont just as much as it is in Pomona and vice versa.

Last Duke

Anonymous said...

Completely overstepping boundaries, gs. What a blanket statement to say "that is where a lot of the racist whites moved to". Shame on you, lol. What is your beef with Claremont?

Anonymous said...

I agree. That's nothing unique to Claremont. Racism is alive and well here in Ontario too.

by the way, they've published additional letters on the bagelry incident on the claremont courier site (a search for it led me to this site btw). Be curious what others think of the apology. Doesn't seem to be directed at the victim, but at the consumer public.

Observant in Ontario

Anonymous said...

Has this been in the Daily Bulletin yet?

Garrett Sawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Garrett Sawyer said...

*Looks around* Nope, aside from my family, there are no other whites in my neighborhood, they all moved away when the when the blacks moved into the neighborhood. That's what my mom said (shes lived here since the early 70's), as soon as there were a handful of black families on the block, the white families started moving out and then more black families moved in, then as the final white families (except for us and one other) moved out, a few mexican families started moving in and then the black families moved away and more mexican families moved in since. It seems to be a pattern of some sort, it's just my opinion that it could be because of racism, even though segregation is illegal now, lots of people tend to segregate themselves anyways. So you can see why I think that. I'm young, so I don't know anything. But, I do know, out of thousands and thousands of previous Pomona residents, there had to be SOME that moved away to Claremont and other cities because they were racist or prejudice, you can't deny I take back the "a lot" in exchange for "some". Does that make you happy? lol. It's not like that much anymore, it was mostly during the civil rights movement, the worst of the 80's and the riots that people started getting scared and moved to "whiter areas". My mom says that in the
80's, a bad time in Pomona when it came to crime, many of her white friends moved away. My mom used to park her old Dodge van in front of the living room window because she was afraid we would be watching tv and get hit in a driveby or something. lol. Her windshield on that van had a ricochet mark on it that I can recall, and I also remember a small bullet hole in her side bedroom window. I don't remember those times much as I was too young (and not even alive during some of it), all I know is my parents stuck it out and at the time our house was one of the very few that didn't have bars on the windows in this area. Lots of people have removed the bars since the mid
90's...things seem to be getting better around here. Now the only times I have to worry about stray bullets are New Years, Cinco de Mayo, and 4th of Oh well, I'm happy living here regardless, just as Claremonters are happy living in Claremont, the only difference is, I know that in Pomona, most of the time, nothing bad will happen to you unless you go looking for trouble.


Another jerk from Claremont said...

Why not ask the victim of the attack (that would certainly never happen in Pomona) her perspective on the evil people of "the Whitest city in the valley" (by the way, I'd love a citation for that 'fact'), Claremont.

From the victim's letter to the Courier:
"I would also like to give thanks to the overwhelming show of support that I have received from the good people of Claremont once it was learned that I was the victim of this assault."

Pride in Garfield Park said...

I'm not sure which cities count as "in the valley," but here's a site where you can look up demographic information by zip code; this site uses data from the 2000 US Census.

Anonymous said...


Seems to me that we have upset the PhD's...I am sure that was not the intent.

The point of this post is that 42nd Street Bagel did not handle this situation appropriately on the onset. They are now very apologetic only to save their clientele. This is unacceptable!

Miss Havisham said...

Claremont is (and has been) the great clandestine seat of conservative extremist power. It's no accident that The Claremont Institute calls it home.