By MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A Black mother and her young child claim they were denied service at a Baltimore restaurant because of the color of their skin.
Marcia Grant and her 9-year-old son Dallas were turned away from being seated at Ouzo Bay, an upscale Greek restaurant in Maryland’s most populous city over the weekend. Grant used her cellphone to capture the confrontation with the restaurant’s manager on camera and later posted the footage on Facebook.
An unidentified employee is seen telling Grant that her son’s outfit violates the restaurant’s dress code. The video shows Dallas wearing an Air Jordan t-shirt with athletic shorts and sneakers. Grant then turns the camera toward a white boy wearing a similar outfit who was dining outside at the restaurant.
“I can’t really say why they wouldn’t let me in the restaurant originally. But once I pointed out to the guy that there was a white kid there with similar dress, I can only imagine that it was based on the fact that Dallas was Black,” Grant told ABC News on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with Good Morning America co-anchor Michael Strahan.
“I kept on insisting that, you know, the white kid has the same thing that Dallas has on, why won’t you let my son in,” she continued, holding back tears. “He just would not, regardless of how hard I pushed for [Dallas].”
Grant explained that it was the first time her son had such an experience.
“He goes to a predominately white school … and they teach the kids that everyone is the same,” she added. “So for him to see a kid outside (at the restaurant) that looks like one of his friends at school, it was tough for him.”
Still, Grant said this won’t stop her from fighting racial inequality.
“He knows I’ll always fight for him,” she said of her son. “We just have to keep on pushing for social justice.”
Atlas Restaurant Group, which owns Ouzo Bay, issued an apology on Monday after Grant’s video went viral, calling the incident “incredibly disturbing.”
“This should have never happened, the manager seen in the video has been placed on indefinite leave,” the company said in a statement. “We are sickened by this incident. We sincerely apologize to Marcia Grant, her son and everyone impacted by this painful incident.”
The company also noted that they immediately revised their policy so that children ages 12 and under, who are accompanied by an adult, aren’t subject to the dress code at any of their properties.
“While dress codes across Atlas properties are the result of ongoing input from customers, in no way are they intended to be discriminatory,” the company added.
A Baltimore police officer who had seen the video recognized Dallas on the street on Tuesday and stopped the boy to say he was sorry for what had happened.
“He said I could come over to his house anytime for dinner,” Dallas said. “Makes me feel really good.”
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