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Black man files lawsuit claiming racism after being denied entry to club for wearing 'too many' chains

A black man has filed a $500,000 lawsuit against the part-owner of a Portland bar, Chris Lenahan, for violating Oregon law, which prohibits "unlawful discrimination" in a place of public accommodation. (Photo: Facebook)

An African-American man filed a $500,000 lawsuit on Monday against a part-owner of a Portland, Oregon, bar and a security company after the man was told he could not enter the club in August 2018 because he was wearing "too many" chain necklaces. The plaintiff, Ray Lamont Peterson, 34, claims that the reasoning was actually to keep a majority of the patrons of the club white.

The lawsuit, according to OregonLive, claims Chris Lenahan, one of the owners of Splash Bar, would inform the security staff, hired by the company Top Flyte Entertainment and Security, to start “arbitrarily enforcing a dress code against African-Americans” when he felt there were too many of them inside the bar. The lawsuit claims that Lenahan said the club was getting "too dark."

The suit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleges that security and the club violated Oregon law which prohibits "unlawful discrimination" in a place of public accommodation.

Peterson's lawsuit states that he arrived at Splash Bar in August 2018 for a friend's birthday party and was informed by security that his necklaces violated their dress code. But they allegedly did not provide a dress code when requested. Peterson's attorneys provided The Oregonian with a photo of what he was wearing that night.

“(Peterson) then asked to talk to a manager who told (Peterson) they did not want ‘that kind’ of ‘riff raff’ in the club,” the lawsuit states, according to the outlet. “(Peterson) asked what that was supposed to mean and protested that others wearing necklaces had been allowed entry that night. The manager responded that he could come into the club if he took one or two of his chains off.”

Lenahan told OregonLive that the lawsuit is "ridiculous," and that he and his partners operate the "most diverse clubs" with the "most diverse clientele."

However, Lenahan, who is part owner of five Portland nightclubs, and another defendant, the company Vegasstars, reached an undisclosed settlement two months ago after an African-American man, Sam Thompson, claimed he was denied entry to the club Dirty Nightlife, of which Lenahan is part owner, in May 2017.

According to Thompson, he was denied access because he was wearing a red shirt and red shoes, and had allegedly violated the dress code, which prohibits "excessively matching colors affiliated with gangs."

The lawsuit claimed that, days later, a white friend of Thompson's was allowed entry into the nightclub, wearing both a red shirt and red shoes.

Peterson's attorney Timothy Volpert and Top Flyte Entertainment and Security did not immediately respond to Yahoo Lifestyle’s requests for comment. Yahoo Lifestyle was unable to locate Lenahan for comment.

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