The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

February 12, 2014

Black eye for Enid: We’re embarrassed, ashamed Enid’s getting this kind of publicity

ENID, Okla. — It’s human nature to look away instead of confronting a problem.

That brings us to the frenzy of attention regarding Gary James of the Chicaro Club. When he was running for Enid City Commission in 2009, we reported about James refusing to serve certain customers and allegations of racism.

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

Thankfully, James never got elected. Further, we weren’t surprised when social media blew up with more allegations of discrimination.

Were we hoping this situation would go away? James’ unacceptable, racist views were not breaking news. This was a glorified “he said/he said” playing out on Facebook.

Recently, KFOR reported James said he’d been in business 44 years and “can spot a freak or a f----t.” Matt Gard, a club regular for years, told the Oklahoma City TV station that James “tried to find a weak excuse not to let me in with my wheelchair or the weak excuse of having loud people with me.”

Facebook was a primary source on this broadcast TV story. As far as we know, an official complaint has not been filed. Please let us know if we are wrong.

We are a paper of record, not a paper of rumor. That means we report on documented complaints, not subjective conjecture. When some readers try to wield the media’s power before following proper recourse or official chain of command, that’s what we tell them.

The subject added another dimension when a petition appeared online requesting a civil rights investigation by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt. Then prank reviews of the establishment started showing up on the business website Yelp.com. A fake Facebook site fired up.

When James’ worldview resurfaced on the obscure Oklahoma City blog The Lost Ogle, Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell commented how news coverage of the Chicaro Club makes him cringe.

We know the feeling. Frankly, we’re ashamed that this chatter is garnering so much media attention. It’s embarrassing for Enid to be defined by the crass remarks of a rogue restaurateur.

 

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