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Trinity Irish Pub Releases Statement on Wednesday's Incident

Posted: Updated: Mar 21, 2015 04:01 PM
UVA Corner area UVA Corner area
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The bar where a University of Virginia student's bloody arrest was caught on camera is responding to the incident for the first time.

Trinity Irish Pub issued a statement through its attorney. The statement describes what the bar's owner saw going down early Wednesday morning.

The statement says Trinity Owner, Kevin Badke was working the door at the time Martese Johnson tried to get inside using an Illinois ID.

Badke says he and Johnson had a brief conversation about both being from Illinois. When Johnson gave the wrong zip code on his ID, Badke denied him entry into the bar and Johnson walked away.

The statement goes on to say, "There have been reported comments that management of Trinity were belligerent towards Mr. Johnson or that Mr. Johnson was belligerent towards management. Those allegations are patently untrue, as the brief conversation that occurred was polite and cordial. Mr. Badke's observation was that Mr. Johnson was a disappointed patron."

Trinity says it is cooperating with state police in the investigation into Johnson's arrest.


News Release: 

STATEMENT FROM MANAGEMENT OF TRINITY IRISH PUB - MARTESE JOHNSON INCIDENT

   The management of Trinity Irish Pub located at 1505 University Avenue on UVA's Corner wish to issue this Press Release to clarify the events of the morning of March 18, 2015 with respect to the Martese Johnson incident, which resulted in his assault and arrest by three Alcohol Beverage Control special agents.

    First, Trinity is restaurant and Irish pub which has been serving the UVA community for 7 1/2 years. Trinity is a place of public accommodation. Trinity does not nor has it ever discriminated on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin which is prohibited by Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Trinity currently employs about 130 individuals of all ages, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and color. Employees and our guests are treated with the utmost respect, not because its required by law but because it's the way to run a successful establishment.

    Because it serves alcohol to its patrons, Trinity is licensed and regulated by Virginia's Alcohol Beverage Control Board. In a college town, ensuring that underage patrons are not served alcohol is a priority. The management of Trinity have found it best to enact a strict 21 and over policy after 10pm during busy evenings for the establishment, generally Tuesday through Saturday evenings. Trinity believes this notably limits the possibility of underage students attempting to gain access to the restaurant. A 10pm timeframe is fair because it allows underage students to still dine at our restaurant for a late dinner. At 10pm, Trinity switches over to our late night food menu. Once 10pm comes, under no circumstances do we allow anyone under the age of 21 to enter the establishment. However, there are special circumstances, such as parties renting out the restaurant, when Trinity will allow underage patrons. This rule is communicated to bouncers on a repetitive basis. At 10pm, Trinity also locks up its patio furniture to assemble a barrier to form a line to the door. This gives us the best way to control the line, keep patrons safe, and most importantly, prevent underage students from sneaking in. Once 10pm comes, Trinity makes sure that each and every single person who wishes to enter the restaurant is ID'd.

    Three bouncers are typically positioned at the door. Two bouncers constantly check ID's while the third controls the exit and monitors the number of patrons to ensure fire code safety. If any questions arise about ID's, the bouncers are instructed to ask one another first and if they are still unsure, a manager will assist and solve the issue. Trinity believes this structured policy enables the restaurant to create a safe environment and administer to all laws to the state of Virginia.

    Prior to Tuesday evening, the management of Trinity were told by ABC agents that their establishment would be watched over closely on St. Patrick's Day because “they were Irish.” In order to ensure that they were in compliance with ABC regulations, Mr. Kevin Badke, Managing Owner of Trinity Irish Pub, was on the restaurant premises and at the front door for a good part of the evening. On or about 12:15am, he spoke with Fire Marshall officials as well as ABC agents who were positioned outside the restaurant and closer to the street on University Way.

    Sometime shortly thereafter, Martese Johnson, who had been in the line described, stepped up to Mr. Badke and handed him his ID. Mr. Badke did not look at the birthdate or the photo, but he did note that the ID was from Illinois. Mr. Badke is from Illinois. Mr. Badke asked Mr. Johnson to provide the zip code on the ID. According to Mr. Badke, this is a test he frequently uses to determine if a patron is using a fake ID. If the ID doesn't belong to them, they are not familiar with some of the details on the ID. Mr. Johnson provided the wrong zip code, although it was close to the one on the license. Mr. Badke immediately responded that he could not accept it. Mr. Johnson, probably realizing the reason for the error, stated that he had moved. At this point, Mr. Badke and Mr. Johnson had a brief conversation because Mr. Badke is from the south side of Chicago, where Mr. Johnson indicated he was from. In Mr. Badke's opinion, Mr. Johnson did not appear to be intoxicated in the least. Despite the conversation, which was cordial and respectful, Mr. Badke reiterated that he could not permit him to enter. He handed Mr. Johnson his ID back and Mr. Johnson began walking in a north westerly direction up University Avenue. A few moments later, Mr. Badke heard a commotion, turned, and saw Mr. Johnson on the ground about 30 feet further up on University Avenue with ABC agents detaining him.

    There have been reported comments that management of Trinity were belligerent towards Mr. Johnson or that Mr. Johnson was belligerent towards management. Those allegations are patently untrue, as the brief conversation that occurred was polite and cordial. Mr. Badke's observation was that Mr. Johnson was a disappointed patron.

    There have been reports that Trinity engages or engaged, in this incident, in racial profiling in not permitting Mr. Johnson to enter. The rationale for allowing patrons to enter – being familiar with the zip code on their own license – is color, gender, race, and ethnicity-blind.

    Comments made by a previous employee by the name of Dante DeVito that Trinity instructs its management to scrutinize persons of color for entry, are patently false. Mr. DeVito was employed by Trinity for six months and was terminated by management for cause. His comments are those of a disgruntled former employee and are not accurate.

    Trinity has been interviewed by and is cooperating with the State Police who indicated that they are investigating the use of excessive force by the ABC officials who arrested Mr. Johnson.