2015.79: Cook / Lawyer Tim Sutherland’s Attempts to Cover Up Gaslamp Racism


Ayman Jarrah runs into the kitchen of his Gaslamp gastropub, waving a Houston Press. “Oh, shit. They’re saying we’re racist. I need a lawyer on the fly.”

Tim, working the fry station, finishes a batch of onion rings, plates them next to a cheeseburger, wipes a spot of grease from the plate with a terrycloth, and puts the plate in the passthrough. He wipes the sweat from his face with the same terrycloth, unties his apron, lets it drop to the kitchen floor. Beneath it he wears a red-and-green plaid shirt and a black tie.

I’m a lawyer, boss. Got a video camera?”

An hour later, this is on Youtube:

When I saw the video, first I thought, “that’s pretty clever PR at the end, suggesting that if people don’t like Gaslamp’s discrimination they ought to get a law passed to forbid it” But then I took a look at the Civil Rights Act, and discovered that—contrary to Sutherland’s bald-faced assertion—federal antidiscrimination law covers nightclubs. It doesn’t cover “private clubs,” but there really isn’t an argument that Gaslamp is a private club. It doesn’t cover bars, but Gaslamp serves food, and serving food makes it a “public accommodation” that can’t discriminate on the basis of race.

Federal antidiscrimination law applies no less to Gaslamp than to Kung Fu Saloon, and if Sutherland couldn’t be bothered to read the Civil Rights Act, at least he could be expected (as a self-professed “food and hospitality” lawyer) to know about Kung Fu Saloon’s consent judgment for doing what Gaslamp was accused of doing.

(Today I learned from Tamara Tabo that Houston already has the city ordinance that Sutherland calls for in the video. So not only does he misstate federal law, but he misstates municipal law as well.)

In light of Sutherland’s misstatements of the law (I’m not sure which would be more charitable: assuming that he lied, or assuming that he’s just incompetent, but Hanlon’s Razor dictates the latter) the PR didn’t look so clever.

In light of those misstatements, the video looks more like a “fuck you” to people who wouldn’t voluntarily do business with a racist business, and a nudge-and-wink to Gaslamp’s preferred clientele: white people who would rather do business with a racist business.

At this point Gaslamp’s stories have been: 1) that the three black lawyers were trying to get onto the rooftop, where everyone must pay a cover; and 2) that the three black lawyers didn’t have any women with them, so they were asked to pay a cover. The lawyers didn’t even know about the rooftop, so they couldn’t have been trying to go there. And lest you believe that they were charged a cover because they didn’t bring any women, check this out:

The hispanic deputy who is standing idly by while Gaslamp requires a cover charge from the black women but not from their white friend is Jojo Flores. The Sheriff’s Office has since decided that it won’t allow our public servants to work at Gaslamp. There’s no indication that Flores has been reprimanded or otherwise disciplined yet.

In his first video, you may have noticed Sutherland opening the door for the gastropub to throw its bouncers under the bus by citing “too much discretion.” That’s probably a strategic choice. About a week ago this popped up:

Blog Ayman Jarrah 1

as well as this:

Blog Ayman Jarrah 2

Those are text messages posted to Facebook by Ryan Matte, purporting to be communications between Ayman Jarrah (a/k/a David Yurman) and him. Matte writes:

I am former management and can testify, and have proof, stating that both Ayman, as well as management gave direct orders to the door staff to not let minorities in, except he used much more vulgar terms. And to Mike Ross and Jacob and Neil. Here is a screen shot of messages of Ayman trying to throw y’all under the bus.

Matte admits having another bone to pick with Jarrah: he says that Jarrah stole his and other employees’ wages. But unless the video and the text messages are fabricated, this is just Ayman Jarrah’s and Gaslamp’s racist hens coming home to roost.

Speaking of fabricated, Tim Sutherland has released another video “on behalf of” his “client”; now the story is that the three lawyers were trying to get in through the VIP entrance instead of waiting in line:

In case you’re not the type who pays attention to cinematography, what you’re seeing there is a video that’s been cropped in three dimensions. Not only is Chef Tim showing you only the time that he wants you to see (not before the three guys walk up, nor after) but he is also showing you only the frame that he wants you to see. It looks like the camera moves from one shot to another, but what’s really happening is that the video has been edited to show only a bit of the recorded frame, so that Gaslamp is showing you only part of the screen at a time.

My bet is that when the whole video comes out, we’ll see that when the three guys walk up to Gaslamp, there is nobody in line. The people who appear to be in line at the end of the snippet are the overserved-looking white folk you see crossing the street before. We’ll see, in other words, that Tim Sutherland is a liar.

The coverup is always worse than the crime.


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