Reporting Jon Delano August 21, 2013 6:20 PM
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Rivers Casino has responded to charges it’s engaged in racist practices with African Americans, delivering a four-page letter to Allegheny County Councilwoman Amanda Green Hawkins.
In a letter to the councilwoman, the casino’s General Manager Craig Clark says the casino has reviewed all the allegations of racism, has interviewed personnel, and looked at tapes, and concluded that there just is no evidence at all of any racism at the casino.
The charges began when a black motorcycle group, the Ruff Ryders, had their event at the Rivers’ Drum Bar shut down early because, they say, there were too many African Americans there.
“I think it was race because any other Friday night they never done that, and I’ve been down there a few times where the numbers were the same,” Kenneth Wright, the club’s president told KDKA’s Jon Delano last month.
In its letter, the casino says the crowd exceeded capacity and that “race was not a factor” when it shut off the bar.
But now a local disc jockey is making a new allegation. He says he was told not to play black music.
“It was an ‘80’s night that I was DJing and I played Whodini’s Friends, which is an ‘80’s song, and this supervisor — I’m not sure what his job title was — ran up to me and specifically said, “Don’t play this ‘explicit word’ rap music,” DJ Bill Bara told Jon Delano.
Delano: “Black music?”
Bara: “Black music.”
Delano: “He told you specifically, ‘Don’t play black music at the casino’?”
Bara: “Yes, sir.”
Bara said he questioned that because Whodini’s tune had no profanity or derogatory words.
Bara: “They said, ‘Play ‘80’s music.’ So, I asked him, ‘It’s ‘80’s night, are you sure this is what…?’ ‘Yes. Coming from my boss out of Chicago, this is the orders.”
Delano: “No black music?”
Bara: “No black music.”
Bara no longer works at the casino.
In its letter, the casino noted it has booked many live African American performers, adding, “In booking events, directing third-party DJs, and choosing performers, we seek to appeal to our diverse clientele, and race is not a factor.”
Casino officials will meet with Councilwoman Green Hawkins next week.