Posted on January 27, 2005

New Orleans Tries to Deal With Claims of Nightclub Racism

Kevin McGill, AP, Jan. 26

NEW ORLEANS — Hoping to quell accusations of racism following the New Year’s Eve death of a black tourist, the city will employ “mystery customers” — people of varying racial backgrounds and ages wearing different types of clothing — to visit local businesses and report on how they are treated.

Levon Jones, 25, a black college student from Georgia, died after a scuffle with white bouncers outside a Bourbon Street bar on New Year’s Eve. Three bouncers were later charged with negligent homicide. The coroner said Jones suffocated as one held him in a headlock for 12 minutes and another pushed down on his back, preventing him from breathing. A third held Jones’ legs.

Jones’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bar claiming race was a factor in the fight. Jones was black and the bouncers are white. The president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference recently said the group will organize a boycott by black tourists if authorities don’t take seriously the idea that racism played a part in the death.