Opinion: Boycott racist bar owner

What would you do if you found out your favorite Five Points bars are profiting from practices of racism and discrimination? The State reported Aug. 18 that bar owner, Matt Shmanske, owner of Moosehead Saloon, Latitude 22 and The Thirsty Parrot, is accused of trying to revamp a bar that had gone “too dark.” 

Many are valid in thinking twice before visiting any of Shmanske’s establishments.

Former manager of Moosehead Saloon, Josh Sutton, spoke to The State and said that he had gotten texts from Shmanske saying that the “crowd shift” needed to be changed and that he would “bring in a entire [new] staff if needed.” Sutton tweeted screenshots of the messages and alleged that the owner said the business was becoming “too dark” and fired some black employees after making everyone reapply to their jobs. At the time the bar’s staff had a high proportion of black employees, according to Sutton's account to The State.

Additionally, Shmanske allegedly instituted a dress code where solid colored T-shirts, teeth grills and chains were not allowed and required less hip-hop and rap music to be played. One African-American patron told The State that he was not allowed in because of his solid colored shirt, whereas he saw several white men that night going in and out of the bar in solid T-shirts. The dress code has since been removed, The State said. However, the fact that it was implemented and enforced speaks volumes about Shmanske’s character.

On top of all of that, owner Shmanske allegedly claimed that he was firing many employees because the bar was not running well and had a drug problem. Employees, including Sutton, told The State they did not notice a large drug problem. From January to July, The State reported that Moosehead had zero police incidents involving drug activity.

All of this indicates that discrimination was openly practiced by Matt Shmanske. From trying to eliminate a number of staffers for no apparent reason, implementing a dress code seemingly aimed at not allowing black men in, and trying to switch music away from hip-hop and rap, it is obvious that Shmanske had motives that were not pure or moral. 

Though not much can be done to Shmanske from a legal standpoint, unless one of his former employees takes action, there should still be repercussions.

This means boycotting bars and restaurants owned by Shmanske, including Moosehead Saloon, Thirsty Parrot, Latitude 22, Vista Union, and Burger 77 Tavern all located in Columbia. Letting someone profit from this type of attitude is disturbing. Choose another bar, and send a message to Matt Shmanske that intentionally creating a majority white bar is ridiculous. 

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