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Kung Fu Saloon bar accused of racism

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One man says he wasn't allowed to enter a local bar this weekend because of his race. The college student, who is African American, says the door man told him he was out of dress code, but he claims that same door man let his white friend inside wearing a similar outfit. 

A group of friends showed up to Kung Fu Saloon on Sunday. As they were all walking in, Stephen Robinson says he was turned away because he was told his look was too "ghetto."

Now the NAACP could be getting involved.

Kung Fu Saloon, a bar just off West 6th Street, is promoted as a local watering hole with a relaxed atmosphere on its website. The same website does not list a customer dress code.

But Stephen Robinson says a doorman told him he couldn't enter the bar on Sunday, because of the length of the shorts he was wearing. However, his friend Michael, wearing similar shorts, was allowed in just before him.

"I was told that I look too ghetto to come in," Robinson said.

Robinson is a 23-year-old student at Texas A&M. He spoke to us by phone from College Station and told us he's never experienced what he believes was racism before Sunday.

"It was just shocking and appalling really," Robinson said. "That does give you an issue of racial profiling."

Scott Hudnall was in the same group as Robinson. He says when he heard the door man use the word "ghetto," he rounded up the group and they left.

"I was hoping that they would admit that they handled it wrong and maybe apologize to Stephen," Hudnall said.

Kung Fu Saloon issued the following statement:

"Management of Kung Fu Saloon is currently investigating a claim that an employee of the company made an inappropriate comment to a customer trying to gain entrance to the bar wearing unacceptable attire. Management will determine whether the comment was racially motivated and if so, appropriate disciplinary action will be taken.

Kung Fu Saloon is home to one of the most diverse crowds in the Austin bar scene – a reputation that we value and cultivate. It is not the policy of Kung Fu Saloon to deny any customer entry based on race or ethnicity. Our aim, as always, is to continue to provide a fun, safe and welcoming atmosphere to anyone, in keeping with Kung Fu Saloon policies."

Some people are arguing it's a private business they can decide who can come in and who can't. Austin Chapter President of NAACP Nelson Linder says that is not true.

"The city of Austin has an anti-discrimination ordinance. It's public or private business. You can't discriminate based on race," Linder said.

Linder says Robinson has not filed a complaint with the NAACP. If he does it's possible the Austin chapter could take legal action.

"This person's language confirmed that this is really about race as a result it's also illegal," Linder said.

Robinson says he is still deciding if he will take legal action.

"I was hoping as a culture we could move forward from everything that we've learned from the past, but sometimes stuff like this happens," Robinson said.

Robinson says he, nor his friends, will ever return to Kung Fu Saloon and added he's overwhelmed by support he's received on social media.

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Austin, TX 78701

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