After two days of negative press and calls for boycotts, downtown Detroit’s Bookies Bar & Grille announced today that it has ended its partnership with minority co-owner Mark Jerant who’s racially charged social media comments went viral this week. Jay Lambrecht, who founded Bookies in 2003, will stay on as sole majority owner of the bar. Lambrecht stated in the release:
To reiterate my comments early this week, I do not condone or agree with the comments made on social media by my former business partner. Those comments go against the culture of inclusion, diversity and respect for my patrons and employees I have worked hard to establish at Bookies Bar and Grille. Thus, I felt it best that Bookies move in a direction that shows our commitment to continue to offer a welcoming environment for all in Detroit.
The problems began Monday evening when Jerant posted a harsh statement below dash cam video of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old unarmed black motorist who was shot to death by police in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In the rant, Jerant criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and the “liberal media frenzy of BS” while suggesting that Crutcher died because he didn’t comply police orders. “Listen to police who have guns pointed at you and don't get shot. It isn't hard,” he wrote.
On Tuesday morning, screenshots of Jerant’s comment as well as shots of his private account identifying him as the co-owner of Bookies were shared on Facebook. The post since been shared more than 446 times. Bookies’ Facebook page as well as Jerant’s were soon taken down and a wave of negative one-star reviews began to pile up on the sports bar’s Yelp page.
That evening, Jerant and the Bookies team tried to quell the PR nightmare by releasing an apology. Within the letter, Jerant suggested that his statements had been taken out of context “as written words often lose inflection” and that he was merely “expressing thoughts that reflect, in some measure, the sentiments that have been shared by my African American friends, that unfortunately the best way when confronted by police offices is to follow their every command to avoid a fatal confrontation.” For many readers and commentators, however, the letter felt more like insincere damage control.
In his statement announcing Jerant’s departure, Lambrecht says, “Mark’s comments in no way reflect what I believe, or that of our hard working employees. People are upset, and rightfully so.” He continues, “I decided we needed to move forward with this change to make sure that Bookies remains a place where all people feel welcome. I am truly sorry, and offer my apology and commitment to earn your trust, respect and business at Bookies Bar and Grille.” Lambrecht is also expected to speak to the media at 10:30 a.m.
UPDATE, 9/22, 1:42 p.m.: Some commenters have raised questions about whether or not Jerant is still involved in Bookies as a silent partner. As BLAC Detroit reports, Lambrecht has fully bought out Jerant. “Actions speak louder than words, and my first action was to figure out this split with Mark,” he says. “The second action is rebuilding our reputation with the community, but more than that, trust.” Read the full report here.
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