Deposition of Jeff Blake in regards to discrimination against African Americans at the Grand Central disco

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Deposition of Jeff Blake in regards to discrimination against African Americans at the Grand Central disco


Discrimination against African Americans--Washington (D.C.)--20th century
Gay bars--Washington (D.C.)--20th century
Depositions--Washington (D.C.)--20th century


Deposition of Jeff Blake, former bartender of the Grand Central disco, regarding the racist instructions given him by the owners of the Grand Central on how to treat African American customers.


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Washington (D.C.)

Document Item Type Metadata


rtj&b \«A)e Ln&r ^
I, Jeff Blake, being duly sworn, depose and say:
1. The following is a full and complete statement to the
best of my knowledge, based upon my experiences and
observations during my employment with the Grand
Central Bar and Restaurant as bartender.
2. During the months of November and December, 1974 and
January, 197 5, I was employed by the Grand Central
Bar and restaurant as a bartender. I was hired by
Raul Frias who was at that time one of several
employees in managerial positions. My immediate
superior who supervised my bartending duties was
Joe Fiume.
3. Others in managerial positions during my employment
were George Dotson, who oversaw the detail work of
many of the employees, and Glen Thompson, George
Dotson's superior, who had responsibility for the
general operations of the entire restaurant and bar.
Although generally Mr. Thompson did not supervise
details, frequently I observed him overseeing the
functions of the doormen. Most of the employees,
including myself, had heard that Mr. Thompson was
owner of the establishment; in fact, he was often
referred to as "Mr. Grand Central".
4. As bartender I was never directed to check identification
of any patrons requesting alcoholic beverages. Rather,
I was directed to serve all patrons requesting such
beverages regardless of how old they appeared. I
assumed from these directions that all patrons permitted
to enter the Grand Central were 21 or older or allowed in
by the management.
5. On several occassions I heard the following remarks
made by some of the waiters: "There sure were a lot of
niggers here tonight!"; "The crowd is getting too
black here!"
6. Members of the management frequently agreed with the
perceptions of the waiters. Specifically, I recall
George Dotson using the term "nigger" when describing
some of the black patrons at the Grand Central.
7. One evening of the second week of November 1974, I heard
Glen Thompson use the term "Black Drag Queens" in a
contemptuous way. I was later informed by other employees
that the police had been called in earlier when 5 black
patrons had become unruly because they had been denied
admission. While tending bar later in the evening, a
black patron approached the bar and requested a glass of
page two
water. Although bartenders should charge for water, it
was the common practice of all the bartenders not to do
so. The management was aware of this practice and rarely
- showed any concern. I therefore gave the black patron
the glass of water that he had requested free of charge.
8. Glen Thompson, who had observed this transaction, came
over to me at the bar and said, "When a customer like that
comes to the bar and asks for water, charge him $1.00."
I responded, "A customer like what?" He answered pointing
to some black patrons, "Any of those niggers!" I told
him that it wasn't my job to discriminate and that I would
not be an agent of his discrimination.
9. Later that night, around closing time, a meeting was called
by Glen Thompson; all employees, without exception, were
required to attend. Approximately 40 people gathered for
the meeting, 20 of whom I recognized as employees I was
surprised at the large number of unfamiliar faces present.
Glen Thompson informed the gathered group that the bar
was having trouble with the "niggers" and that it would be
necessary to toughen up the policy at the door. He claimed
that the "niggers" made the bar unsafe. He told everyone
to come the following night "prepared to fight if necessary."
We were all encouraged to bring frineds who could assist
Mr. Thompson by acting as informal bouncers. Each friend'
of an employee who would come to help, Glen Thompson
continued, would receive free drinks from the bar.
10. I had never witnessed any violent or disorderly blacks
during the course of my employment. I saw no reason to
exclude blacks from the bar, particularly on the grounds
that they made the bar unsafe. The black patrons who
frequented the Grand Central were certainly no more
unruly than'the white patrons.
11. The following night there was great tension among the
employees. George Dotson called an informal meeting of
of all the bartenders. He informed us that if a person
came to the bar and said that they were here to help out
Glen, we were to give them free drinks.
12. During the evening Glen Thompson spent most of his time
supervising the doormen. There were certainly fewer
blacks in the bar that night and I noticed that from
that night on until around the third week in January 1975,
when I quit, fewer and fewer blacks were ever seen inside
the bar.
I, Jeff Blake, being duly sworn, depose and say: that
I have read the foregoing statement (numbered 1 through 12)
and know the contents thereof; that the same is true of my
page three
own knowledge, except as to matters therein stated on
-information and belief; and that as to these matters I
believe the same to be true.
Subscribed and sworn to before me
this—>^i» day of June, l£76.
Notary Pu>M.ic
My Commissi™ Expirei March 31, I960


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