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updated: 11/7/2019 8:59 PM

Attorneys to address racial policies after Buffalo Wild Wings confrontation

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  • Two people among a group of 18 diners, most of them black, at the Buffalo Wild Wings on 75th Street in Naperville said they were asked to move because others didn't want to sit near them. Two managers at the restaurant have been fired.

    Two people among a group of 18 diners, most of them black, at the Buffalo Wild Wings on 75th Street in Naperville said they were asked to move because others didn't want to sit near them. Two managers at the restaurant have been fired.
    Courtesy of ABC 7 Chicago

 
 

The attorney for the families involved in a racial confrontation at a sports bar in Naperville said Thursday that he expects to begin meeting with Buffalo Wild Wings company executives the week of Nov. 18.

Chicago attorney Cannon Lambert is representing six adults and 12 children who were asked to move seats Oct. 26 because two white customers in the Buffalo Wild Wings on 75th Street didn't want to sit near them.

Lambert is pushing Buffalo Wild Wings to make changes to its hiring, training and employee conduct policies to ensure nothing similar happens again and to "show other corporate community participants what it is to stand up to racism." He and his clients have asked the chain to implement diversity and sensitivity training, preemployment screening and a zero-tolerance policy for bigoted conduct.

He said Thursday evening that an attorney for the nationwide chain of 1,200 sports bars told him "decision-makers and policymakers" will be prepared to meet with him sometime during the week of Nov. 18.

"That's an encouraging step," Lambert said.

As attorneys for both sides worked Thursday toward scheduling the meeting, Naperville police Cmdr. Mike Son said the department's investigation into the matter has concluded. A police report about what happened was not yet made public Thursday, and Son said the city's legal department is beginning to evaluate what police will be authorized to release.

Naperville police Chief Robert Marshall said Wednesday that the investigation found no evidence of a hate crime committed by a white customer who is not from Naperville and whom authorities and restaurant officials have not named. The customer has been informed he is banned from all Buffalo Wild Wings restaurants.

Lambert said he was "thrown off" by the fact that police investigated a potential hate crime at all.

"As I also understand it, the individual did not really interface with my clients," Lambert said.

Instead, two managers at the restaurant -- one black woman and one white woman, both fired after an internal investigation -- interacted with the group of 18, along with a black man who quit his job as a host at the restaurant the evening after the situation unfolded.

The confrontation has led to pleas for better dialogue and community participation among people of all races, as well as early calls for the city of Naperville to update its mission statement to include language about diversity and inclusion.