The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 27, 2009

City commission candidate defends himself against accusations of racism

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer

Ward 4 Enid City Commis-sion candidate Gary James is aware of stories circulating about how he has refused service to some customers at his Chicaro Club, but he defends himself against accusations he is racist.

James reportedly has asked black people and people he believes are homosexual to leave his establishment.

James said he has asked people to leave the bar, but it is not based on race or sexual orientation. However, he does have some strong words to describe those he won’t allow in his establishment, calling them “trash” and “faggots.”

“If a racist is someone who doesn’t like unproductive trash, then it’s true. I’m talking about white, black, brown or yellow. I don’t like unproductive people,” James said Monday. “People who know me, know better.”

He said he has never asked anyone to leave his club based solely on their race, and said he has asked many more white customers than black customers to leave because they caused a problem.

He said he has asked customers to leave who are wearing clothes he does not approve of.

“I don’t like girlie men. I’m not fond of men with all kinds of metal in their face,” he said. “My customers don’t want them around, and I don’t want them around. I don’t consider that racist. I have black friends, but they are productive. Guys who come in with their britches down to their knees won’t get served in my place.”

James is proud of the fact there have never been drugs associated with his business. Chicaro Club is known as a hangout for personnel from Vance Air Force Base, and James said he was told a military survey of Enid establishments showed his establishment was drug free.

While Vance commanders can place a business off-limits, that designation has never been placed on Chicaro as far back as records go, according to Bob Farrell, 71st Flying Training Wing community relations chief.

James is most adamant about customers wearing hats in his establishment.

“I have one rule that does away with 95 percent of the trash,” James said. “If they are rude enough to wear a hat inside a building, I don’t want them here. Most of those little faggots have their hats on backwards.”

Enid attorney John Hodg-den said Chapter 21 of Title 25 of Oklahoma Statutes prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, gender, national origin, handicap or age. Sexual orientation is not a protected class of people under Chapter 21. Discrim-ination is prohibited in housing practices, employment and public accommodations. Restaurants and bars fall under the definition of a “place of public accommodation.”

Under that statute, “any place, store or other establishment . . . which supplies goods or services to the general public or which solicits or accepts the patronage or trade of the general public qualifies as a place of public accommodation.” Private clubs are exempt from that regulation provided the policies of the private club are determined by its members, and its facilities or services are available only to its members and their guests, he said.

James understands he is a lightning rod for controversy but that doesn’t bother him.

James is running for the Ward 4 seat, even though his residence is in another ward. He defended his decision to run in Ward 4 because that’s where Chicaro Club is located, and he says he spends most of his time at the business.

According to state election law, James could have been removed from the ballot if either of his opponents had put up $250 and successfully protested his candidacy. Neither incumbent Loyd Kaufman nor Drew Ritchie protested. If James wins, the commission could make the final determination to seat him since his permanent residence is outside Ward 4.