11 27 2014
  9:42 pm  
     •     
The Wake of Vanport oral history

A state investigator found no conclusive evidence that an Oregon Liquor Control Commission inspector suggested downtown business owners should avoid catering to Blacks.

But in a Department of Justice report, the investigator noted that at least one former liquor inspector acknowledged telling other business owners that they would have fewer disturbances if they changed music, according to a local paper.

"If you want to get rid of your problems, change your format," the inspector recalled saying, according to the report.

"Maybe that's racist. I don't know."

After a string of disturbances last August, the manager of The Vue nightclub told liquor commission director Teresa Kaiser that a state inspector had once warned him in 1997 not to seek out Black customers.

"An OLCC inspector told me in private that Blacks belonged to Northeast Portland, not downtown. I was furious with his statement and I thought he was racist," Rami Makboul, who managed the club, said in an e-mail to Kaiser. "After seeing the violence of last Sunday night, I owe an apology to that inspector."

Kaiser asked the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate and the report came back late last month.
Investigator Geoffrey Darling wrote that he could find "no tangible evidence to conclusively confirm or deny the allegation."

The Makboul brothers could not positively identify the OLCC inspector in interviews with Darling, who also interviewed inspectors. One inspector admitted he suggested that businesses change their music selection to avoid trouble.
Kaiser said Darling's report represented the end of the investigation. She said she didn't consider the inspector's comments "particularly racial," but also didn't think they accurately reflected the liquor commission's mission.
"We don't care about what kind of music you play," she said. "We care about crowd control and noise."

— The Associated Press

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