A black man was kicked out of an upscale sushi restaurant in Atlanta on Tuesday for wearing tennis shoes even though a white woman seen with sneakers was allowed to eat there.
After video went viral, Atlanta-based rapper TI called for a boycott of the restaurant, forcing the owner to apologize over the incident.
Viral video of the incident shows William Johnson, who is wearing a pair of Nike Air Force One sneakers, arguing with the manager of Umi Sushi in Buckhead after he was asked to leave even though he and his wife had a 5:15pm birthday reservation.
After the manager told Johnson to leave because of his footwear, he pointed out that a woman sitting at the nearby bar was also wearing a pair of athletic sneakers.
‘This is pure racism, she has on Adidas,’ Johnson says in the video. ‘That’s not right.’
A black man identified in the video as William Johnson is seen above being told to leave Umi Sushi, a restaurant in Atlanta, on Tuesday
Johnson was told to leave after he walked into the restaurant wearing a pair of Nike Air Force One sneakers
Johnson noted that a white woman sitting at the bar nearby was wearing Adidas sneakers (above)
After the video from Tuesday’s incident went viral, the Atlanta-based rapper TI posted a message on his Instagram on Thursday calling for a boycott of the restaurant
Rapper TI wrote: ‘I see we are going to have to shut Umi Sushi down the way we did Houston’s!’ Houston’s is a reference to an Atlanta restaurant that went out of business after claims it discriminated against black patrons. TI led a boycott of the restaurant
‘What’s the difference?’ Johnson is heard repeatedly asking the manager as they stand in the middle of the restaurant and argue.
‘How crazy is that?’ he says in the video. ‘She has on Adidas sneakers.’
The manager then responded that the woman has on ‘dress sneakers.’
‘You can wear Adidas but you can’t wear Nikes?’ Johnson says.
‘Sir, please leave,’ the manager is heard telling him.
‘No, I want to talk right here,’ he says in response. ‘This is something you brought on yourself.’
The manager denied that racism was the reason the couple was being kicked out.
Kaylan Colbert, Johnson’s wife who works as a personal injury attorney based in Atlanta, was recording the argument, which went on for about 10 minutes.
Another employee came over to speak to Johnson.
‘We can figure something out if you can just step outside,’ the employee said. ‘Let’s find a middle ground.’
Johnson replies: ‘I tried to be calm. I tried to [find a middle ground].’
During a discussion outside, Johnson tries to get an answer from one of the employees, who tells him that Air Force One sneakers are not allowed.
He then confronts the owner, Farshid Arshid, who tells him that Adidas and Nike shoes are against the dress code.
After Johnson was thrown out of the restaurant, he confronted the owner, Farshid Arshid, in the parking lot of the restaurant
Arshid told Johnson that Air Force One sneakers weren’t allowed. The two men nearly came to blows over a misunderstanding involving Johnson’s wife, Kaylan Colbert, who filmed the incident
‘There’s no Adidas, there’s no Nikes,’ Arshid tells Johnson. ‘We don’t have sneakers.’
But when Johnson invites Arshid to go to the bar where the white woman wearing Adidas was seated, he refuses.
‘I’m not going to have an argument, there’s no Air Force Ones, done!’ Arshid says before walking away.
Colbert then tells her husband: ‘Oh, wow…You’re a n****r at the end of the day.’
Arshid appears taken aback, thinking that Colbert directed the racial slur at him.
‘Do you see what I’m f*****g wearing?’ an agitated Arshid tells Colbert as he takes a few steps in her direction while pointing to his own Nike sneakers.
At this point, Johnson steps in front of Arshid, yelling at him within inches of his face: ‘I don’t give a f*** what you’re wearing!’
‘Back up! Don’t go at my wife!’ an angry Johnson tells Arshid.
Arshid told Johnson he took offense that Colbert called him the n-word, though she corrected him and said that she directed those remarks to her husband.
During the altercation, the restaurant manager and another employee try to restrain the two as Johnson appears to threaten Arshid.
Arshid then warns Johnson he will call the police, though Johnson responds that he isn’t afraid of going to jail.
‘I could buy my way right out of it,’ Johnson tells Arshid. ‘I’m not scared of jail. So don’t try me.’
Colbert then reminds Arshid that ‘a lot of black people come here’ to the restaurant and that ‘we’ve come here and spent thousands of dollars.’
‘Not anymore,’ Arshid tells Colbert.
As Arshid then walks away, he appears to taunt Johnson, saying: ‘Look at you. Look at you.’
The two once again get close, appearing as if they are about to trade blows.
‘You don’t want to go there with me,’ Arshid tells Johnson.
At this point, Colbert urges her husband to leave the restaurant and go home.
As they continue arguing, Arshid threatens to have Johnson and his wife arrested.
‘They’re going to go to jail tonight,’ he says.
Colbert then tells Arshid that she’s a former prosecutor.
‘I don’t mind, I really don’t,’ she said. ‘I’m a lawyer. I can handle it.’
Johnson tells Arshid: ‘I don’t care about jail. It’s about right and wrong.’
After the incident went viral, calls grew for a boycott of the restaurant, which apparently prompted Arshid to reach out to TI, the Atlanta-based rapper.
On Thursday, TI posted a message to Instagram which read: ‘I’ve been made aware of some injustices that requires our immediate attention. We comin.’
The caption ended with the hashtag #YouViolateWeDemonstrate.
Later on Thursday, TI posted a video on his Instagram showing him meeting with the restaurant owner and his brother
The Instagram picture included a message which read: ‘I see we are going to have to shut Umi Sushi down the way we did Houston’s!’
Houston’s is a reference to an Atlanta restaurant that went out of business after claims it discriminated against black patrons. TI led a boycott of the restaurant.
Later on Thursday, TI posted a video on his Instagram showing him meeting with the restaurant owner and his brother.
‘They have apologized and they’ve made it know that they understand the failure in how they responded to the matter the other day,’ he said.
‘They’re interested in finding ways to become more diverse…They understand that this culture of ours runs this down, and they understand that.
‘They don’t want to alienate or ostracize our culture.’
TI added: ‘So we have to find ways to show them how we can work together towards a resolution.’
Colbert told FOX 5 TV that they did not take issue with the dress code, which apparently barred customers from wearing sneakers.
Colbert said she and her husband were bothered by the fact that the dress code was not uniformly applied to all customers.
‘As we were walking out though my husband noticed a woman at the bar had on tennis shoes and that’s when everything had gone out the window at that point because there are no rules here for some people, only for others,’ she said.
Colbert added: ‘I had been there multiple times.
‘The COVID situation we had probably been about four times and spent plenty of money there in the past so this is supposed to be like a high-end restaurant.’
Despite the dress code, Colbert said that she and her husband have eaten at the restaurant even though he wore sneakers.
Colbert (seen above) said that the couple had no problem with the dress code, but it wasn’t applied uniformly
The restaurant posts its dress code on its website and on the premises (seen above)
‘If you’re going to have rules they should apply to everyone and not just some people,’ she said.
Arshid, told FOX 5 that he regretted the way the situation was handled.
‘This was completely, 100 per cent an operational mistake on our end,’ Arshid said.
‘When they got upset we should have investigated that.’
Arshid said that he has personally reached out to the couple, though they would not guarantee returning to the restaurant to eat.
‘We’ve seen this on the news over and over lately,’ Colbert said.
‘Nobody wants to feel that way. Nobody wants to feel like they can’t go to certain places.’