WILSON – A Wilson man says he wants more arrests made after he says he was surrounded, then peppered with racial slurs Tuesday night in the bathroom of a Young Street bar.
Niagara County sheriff’s deputies charged one man, Kevin S. Wise Jr., 22, of East Lake Road, with second-degree harassment. Deputies said Wise was highly intoxicated and belligerent when they questioned him at 11 p.m. in Jean’s Bar. Based on the racial nature of the crime, deputies said they may increase the charges against Wise.
Wise is accused of confronting Christopher L. Smith, 32, in the bar’s small bathroom and using a racial slur to tell him blacks “aren’t allowed in this town.”
He also called Smith a crack dealer and used an obscenity in telling him to get out of town, Smith told deputies.
Smith said he was using the bathroom when Wise confronted him. The door was open during the incident, with three people standing beside him inside the bathroom and two more standing outside.
“They actually had me surrounded,” Smith told The Buffalo News on Wednesday. “I want all of them charged.
“I don’t think it is right for me to be using the bathroom with four of five people behind me, surrounding me telling me [blacks] are not allowed in the village and are not welcome here,” Smith said.
He said deputies told him that they did not arrest the others because they didn’t say anything.
Undersheriff Michael J. Filicetti said deputies are considering increasing the charge of second-degree harassment, a violation, to second-degree aggravated harassment, a misdemeanor. He said aggravated harassment is charged when someone is harassed based on race or color.
Smith told The News that he refused to be bullied Tuesday night, that he finished his drink, then went home to call deputies, rather than stay and confront anyone. Deputies went to the bar and questioned Wise, who said he confronted Smith because he was trying to sell crack to people in the bar.
He told deputies he told Smith to get out of town or he would beat him up but denied using a racial slur.
However, deputies said as they questioned Wise he used the slur to refer to Smith, then became belligerent, yelling obscenities and refusing to stop.
Smith vehemently denied any allegations that he was selling drugs.
“He accused me of being a crack dealer and said black people are not welcome here,” he said. “I am one of the few black people who live [in Wilson]. If I sold drugs, I would stand out like a big spot. I am black. I am the only one.”
He said the confrontation was definitely racially motivated.
“It started over music. They were playing country music [on the jukebox]. I put on rap music, then they put on country music. I skipped their song and put on rap music, and then I got surrounded in the bathroom. The rap music was talking about drugs so I guess that makes me a drug dealer,” Smith said.
Smith said he moved to Wilson – a town of about 6,000 people, including a village of about 1,260, along Lake Ontario – from Lockport two months ago. At first, he was uncomfortable, he said, but had begun to feel better about the community.
“After this incident, I do wonder if people are going to mess with me as I walk to the store,” Smith said. “I am not surprised [by the racism]. There’s anti-Obama signs all the way up the street.”
Acting Mayor Bernard Leiker – like the president, a Democrat – said Wilson is very Republican and does not have a lot of black families but is not a racist community.
“I’ve never heard of something like this happening before,” he said. “This was pretty horrible, but knowing the community as I do, racism it is not something we either tolerate or condone. This is not a typical response from anyone in the village.”
He said the bar confrontation sounded like a single incident prompted by one person.