Hong Shing, a popular Chinese restaurant in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has been ordered to pay $10,000 as compensation for a human rights violation after it asked a group of black customers to prepay for their meals in 2014.
Emile Wickham, the man who filed the complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, said that he and three friends went to Hong Shing for a late-night birthday dinner in May of 2014, according to The Globe and Mail.
He and his friends were the only Black people at the restaurant, which was opened in 1997 by a couple of immigrants from Guangzhou, China.
After placing their order, the server told the group that they would have to pay in full before the food was brought out.
Emile asked other diners in the restaurant if they had prepaid and everyone said no. He realized that he and his group were being discriminated against.
“His mere presence as a Black man in a restaurant was presumed to be sufficient evidence of his presumed propensity to engage in criminal behavior,” adjudicator Esi Codjoe wrote in her decision.
Emile was treated like a “potential thief in waiting.”
Colin Li, owner and manager of Hong Shang, said in a statement that the restaurant, which sponsors a basketball team, is “deeply concerned about the situation and the people affected, with an added consideration that the reported claim occurred four years ago when the restaurant was under different management.”
Citing a 2017 survey by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, VICE reported that 47% of Black respondents experienced racial profiling in private establishments, from being followed by employees to being asked if they could afford items or services, to being physically removed.
“Law enforcement get the brunt of the criticism when it comes to anti-black racism, but it happens in our daily lives,” said Wickham. “It happens when we interact with an immigration officer, when we go to the unemployment office, when we go to the dental office. Canadians need to understand how they themselves could be contributing to this.”
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