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Police look into racial accusations at Annville restaurant

Written by Daniel Walmer/Lebanon Daily News | Jan 25, 2017 6:29 AM
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Just Wing It in Annville pictured on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. (Photo: Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

College students allege that they were called racial slurs and refused service

(Annville) -- Police confirmed Tuesday that they are investigating reports of a racial incident at Just Wing It in Annville.

A Lebanon Valley College student says he and a friend were refused service and greeted with the n-word after ordering wings and a beer early Sunday morning at "Just Wing It" in Annville.

Ricky Bugg, Jr., a black man, said he entered the store at 18 E. Main St. at about 1:30 a.m. He ordered 20 wings from a woman at the front counter, while his friend, a white man, ordered a beer.

While they were waiting, Bugg said a man he believed to be a manager came out from the back of the restaurant carrying a beer and said, "I don't need you n------s. I own three other restaurants. You guys don't need to eat here."

The manager then went back inside the private portion of the restaurant, Bugg said in an interview with the Lebanon Daily News. He and his friends then asked for their money back and prepared to leave, he said.

Before they left, however, the manager returned and "he's just staring at me like he had a problem or something," Bugg said.

They turned to leave, but Bugg admitted he flipped over "a few" chairs on the way out, after which the manager said, "get out, n------s."

At that point, Bugg said his friend was holding him back to prevent any rash decisions, while Just Wing It employees were holding back the manager.

According to Bugg, the manager said, "Trump's president now, I can say what I want."

Bugg and his friend then left but returned with a larger group of friends, he said.

"We just wanted to get an apology, we weren't going to do anything," he said.

By that time, however, the manager had called Annville police, Bugg said. Police interviewed both him and the manager.

Annville Township Police Chief Bernard Dugan said at a press conference Tuesday that police were called to the restaurant at 1:53 a.m. Sunday morning for a reported disturbance. Employees said two customers, believed to be college students, were unhappy with their service, so they caused a disturbance and left the business.

As police were leaving, they were met by the two students, one of which Dugan identified as Bugg. Bugg reported that while they were waiting for their order, a man entered from the kitchen and directed a racial slur at Bugg, Dugan said.

There are differences between the stories of the students and the stories of the employees, and police are still working to determine if any of the actions by any party rise to the level of a violation of criminal law, he said.

Annville Police Chief Bernard Dugan held a press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Annville Town Hall regarding details of an alleged racial incident at Just Wing It in Annville. Lebanon Daily News

 

"We are trying very diligently to get the exact statements of the parties to get the exact sequence of events," he said.

Dugan would not reveal the name of the employee who allegedly made racist remarks, but said "we're not sure whether it's a co-owner or a manager, but it's not just a run-of-the-mill employee."

Police are not aware of there having been any other race-related incidents at the restaurant, he said.

An employee at Just Wing It referred all questions to the owner on Tuesday morning and said she would relay to the owner that the Lebanon Daily News wanted to speak with her. No representative of Just Wing It has responded to the Lebanon Daily News's request for comment.

The incident has sparked a flurry of negative reviews on Just Wing It Annville's Facebook page.

There were 63 one-star reviews posted to the page within one 3-hour period Monday morning. Many stated they would not eat at the restaurant any longer due to the alleged incident.

Just Wing It Annville's owner told the Lebanon Daily News in July that the restaurant is not directly affiliated with Just Wing It Lebanon but was established under the guidance of Just Wing It Lebanon's owner.

At Lebanon Valley College's Symposium on Inclusive Excellence Tuesday, President Lewis Thayne encouraged students to sign an open letter to the Annville Township commissioners that references the events, states that the college rejects prejudice and discrimination, and encourages the commissioners to "join us by endorsing the values expressed here."

Bugg said this isn't the first time he's experienced racism in central Pennsylvania. However, most people in the area are supportive, and he's received great support from his friends and from Lebanon Valley College since this incident.

"The support has been great - it's been more than I expected," he said.

On Monday morning, Lebanon Valley College posted a statement from Gregory Krikorian, vice president of Student Affairs and Dean of Students, on its Facebook page Sunday afternoon.

"It has been reported that an employee at the establishment made racially derogatory and offensive comments toward a male black student. Other students were present. When the situation escalated, the Annville Police responded and documented the events," the statement read in part. "This incident illustrates the serious challenges facing our community and our society. Tuesday's Symposium for Inclusive Excellence will provide us with an opportunity to explore these challenges and affirm LVC's values of inclusiveness and respect."

Any LVC student in need of support in relation to the incident can contact Student Affairs at 717-867-6233 or the Counseling Center at 717-867-6232.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

Published in Lebanon, News

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