Black teen says Poke Poke restaurant manager threw chair at him in racially-fueled incident

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some are calling for a boycott of a downtown restaurant after an incident last week involving a black teenager.

When Chicago police arrived on the scene at the Poke Poke restaurant in Chicago's Loop last week, they said it was unclear whose story to believe. According to the police report, the restaurant manager alleged the student clenched his fist and made a threat. But in that same report, the manager admitted throwing a chair. The teen said that chair hit his arm, sending him on a trip to the ER -- and he feels he was racially profiled.

High school student John Kyle Johnson said he is on Wabash a lot, going to and from school and the library. That's what he was doing last week when he said someone motioned him into Poke Poke. But then, he said the manager of the restaurant confronted him.

"As I'm just listening to him yell at me, he picks up a chair and he just swings it at me," Johnson said.

Johnson started recording after the incident on his phone.

"This is the second time in a row, third time in a row. Two days ago, I'm not trying to be racist, two black guys robbed two people right here," the manager said on the cell phone recording.

"Sir, but you threw a chair at me! I'm not those guys!" Johnson can be heard saying in the exchange.

"No, no listen, listen. Three days ago, before that, I had two more black guys, I actually fought them in here. 8 p.m. at night they started threatening my employees and I had to fight them. When you guys came in here, I just get really [expletive] defensive, really defensive. Because I have to [expletive] all the time," the manager said in the video.

"But you threw a chair at me," Johnson replies.

"Let's talk over here.... No man, I get it, I'm in the [expletive] wrong, I feel bad," the manager said. "I shouldn't have done that [expletive] man, that was wrong. But I'm not going to lie man. Yo, I'll look in here. I had to fight three people in my restaurant the other day, so I thought I had to fight some more [expletive] people, so I freaked out."

Johnson stood with an attorney and a mentor Wednesday to share what he said happened on January 2.

"I was shocked to see somebody so angry, just that so much hatred in his eyes," Johnson said.

"Given the state of our country right now, especially our city right now, this is something that needs to be tackled head on and I think that we want to see some changes come out of it," said Anish Parikh, Johnson's attorney.

"I don't want this to nobody else, this shouldn't happen to anyone," Johnson said.

The spokesman for Poke Poke said the manager, Matthew Fezzey, has been suspended and they are interviewing everyone involved.

"We are truly sorry and nobody should be treated this way. We believe in kindness and compassion," the spokesman told ABC7.

He also said they are looking at new training for their employees. As for those calling for a boycott, they say they will boycott until Fezzey is fired.

ABC7's attempts to reach Fezzey were unsuccessful.
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