By Patrice K. Muhammad
Posted online: Nov. 7, 2016 at 2:53p
Abigail Gates was livid in a Facebook LIVE message from her car after she left Portofino’s Restaurant and had to make a police report on behalf of her daughters who say they were attacked by a restaurant manager who yelled racial slurs.
Gates daughter, Queen Zion, said that she and a friend were assaulted by the white male after he accused her of stealing the jacket of a waitress.
The mother of Crystal, who is pictured, said that she moved her family to Lexington from Miami because she thought it would be a better place to raise her children.
“People say Kentucky is a very racist state but everyone was so nice when we first got here. But now, I have my guard up. I am so hurt,’’ said Patricia Flowers.
On Saturday, October 5, Queen Zion and a group of teens took part in a photo shoot that took place at several locations in Downtown Lexington.
A little after 7 p.m. they ended the shoot near Portofino’s.
‘‘I went in and asked if we could change in the bathroom because the photographer needed our clothes from the shoot,’’ said Queen.
Two girls went into the restroom and exited 2-3 minutes later.
A waitress then tells the manager that her $200 leather jacket was missing.
‘‘The manager asked me to open my bag. I told him I didn’t have her jacket. I asked him why he wanted to look in my bag because he just saw me walk to the bathroom and come right back out,’’ said Queen.
After opening her backpack, she said the manager looked into it but did not see the jacket and the waitress said ‘‘they were the only Black people in there.’’
Queen said it was then that her sister stepped in and said they should leave. Queen says the manager began questioning the other teens who were waiting in the lobby for them.
Queen says she and her sister began walking down Main Street toward Esplanade and realized the manager was following them. They began running and he chased them.
They stopped and asked why he was chasing them. He asked to look in her bag again. This time when she opened it, she says he grabbed it and she snatched it back. When she put it on her back she said her pulled her hair and dragged her to the ground. The other teens tried to get him off her and during the altercation they say the manager punched Crystal Flowers in the mouth, knocking her to the ground semi-conscious.
Queen was recorded on video the next day retracing the steps of the altercation which went down Main Street, into the Chase Bank drive thru lanes and across Main Street near the LFUCG garage door entrance.
After running through traffic on Main Street, Queen said the manager caught her and hit her again while the waitress yelled, ‘‘get the nigger, get the nigger’’. She said an older man came to her defense and told the manager to stop hitting her and the manger called her a ‘‘Black bitch’’ and a thief. It was then that she could escape.
Queen said they ran back to gather all of their friends and they ended back in the Portofino’s parking lot. The manager told them he had called the police and the group waited to make a report.
It was Abigail’s post that caught the attention of several Black men who gathered at the Portofino’s parking lot the following day to seek answers.
Damon Muhammad said there were already 2-3 officers in the parking lot in their police cars. After the group gathered and went inside to approach the manager on duty to get more answers and information he said the officers approached them and stayed during their conversation with management.
By telephone, a Portofino’s manager Sarah acknowledge there was an incident involving a manager and that police were called but did not offer more details other than, ”get the facts.”
‘‘The goal was to show that we are unified and these girls had the backing of the men in the community,’’ said Bro. Damon. The group is made up of men from various community organizations under the banner of the “10,000 Fearless, Justice or Else Movement.”
Muhammad said the group will continue to support the family and monitor the case.
Crystal, who is pictured, suffered a busted lip and chipped tooth from the punch and later suffered the face wound after tripping over a low link chain and falling face first on the concrete.
Her mother Ms. Flowers is very upset. ‘‘If I punched my child, they’d have arrested me. The system is really jacked up,’’ she said.
A Lexington Police representative said that when an assault complaint is received it is assigned to a detective who will investigate. An immediate arrest can only take place if the officer witnesses it.
There were multiple witnesses to the altercation and there are many cameras mounted on the exterior of buildings, including Chase bank that should have footage of the incident from various angles.
“This really bothers me for them to do this (to my children) because of their color. I never experienced this, they didn’t experience this,’’ Ms. Flowers said.
The mothers say they will continue until justice is served in this case.
Updates will be posted to www.lextown.info when available.