NE Portland club shuts down, owner files discrimination suit - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland club involved in shooting shuts down, owner files discrimination suit

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Fontaine Bleau Fontaine Bleau
November 2013 file image after shooting November 2013 file image after shooting
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A club owner has sued the City of Portland, the police bureau, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, claiming racial discrimination.

The Fontaine Bleau on Northeast Broadway was the scene of a fight that turned into a deadly shooting on Nov. 9, 2013.

Two days later, the OLCC suspended the club's license claiming there was a long list of problems at the club.

However, the owner is claiming it's racism and now he's being forced to shut down.

It was moving day for the owner of Fontaine Bleau Friday.

All of the equipment borrowed to open this club a year ago was being removed by Friday afternoon.

"I know he's been packing up and moving out, so it's sad to see it go. The owner did try to make an effort at it," said Tim Haley, a nearby neighbor who worked at the club.

Club owner Rodney DeWalt filed a tort claim in December and claims he was unlawfully discriminated against because he was running a club that catered to the black community.

"When he first started out it was supposed to be a live venue for blue jazz, that kind of thing and that's what it started out as," said Haley.

In the summer of 2013, the OLCC and police started hearing complaints about the club.

"I don't want to say it was problems, because it was more like the clientele would fluctuate depending on the night and what kind of music they had," added Haley.

Police say the final straw was a fight that lead to the shooting death of Durial Harris, 30, outside the club.

On Nov. 11, 2013, the OLCC suspended Fontaine Bleau's license, citing a long list of persistent problems. Investigators called the club a danger to public safety including fights and disorderly conduct that involved guns.

The owner says some of those problems weren't his fault and he feels he was picked on because of his race.

In the tort claim, DeWalt says he followed all the rules and added extra security for certain events.

He also says police never contacted him directly when responding to the club, including the night of the shooting. He did say police had asked him to keep gang members out of the club. However, he states in the claim he's new to the area and can't identify gang members.

The club owner would not comment about the tort claim on Friday and referred us to his attorney.

The police bureau and the OLCC also said it could not comment on any pending litigation.

Copyright 2013 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation.  All rights reserved.

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