Protesters picket bar, claim man with Down syndrome discriminated against; owner says it’s retaliation.

January 23, 2016

rendezvous_protest_012316By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

WALHALLA — A group of protestors picketed outside of Riley’s Rendezvous Grille and Tavern, 6626 E. U.S. 10, Saturday afternoon. The group claimed that business owner John Riley had discriminated against Tyler Janicki, 22, because Tyler has Down syndrome. Riley said the protest was about retaliation stemming from an incident that goes back about five years ago.

Brad Dodson of Fountain organized the protest. Dodson said about two weeks ago his friend, Tyler, was walking by the Rendezvous and stopped to use the restroom.

Tyler Janicki, left, and Brad Dodson claim that Tyler was discriminated against because he wasn't allowed to use the bar's restroom.

Tyler Janicki, left, and Brad Dodson claim that Tyler was discriminated against because he wasn’t allowed to use the bar’s restroom.

“Once inside he proceeded to use the restroom in which the owner yells out asking what he thinks he’s doing,” Dodson said. “Tyler responded by saying he wanted to use his restroom. John C. Riley, the owner, said ‘I don’t come to your house and use your bathroom. You have to buy something to use my restroom.’”

Dodson said at that time Janicki attempted to purchase something but was kicked out of the restaurant. Dodson said he and his family and friends found out about the incident earlier this week when they were at their pool league. He said he then visited Riley the next day and confronted him about the incident, claiming that Riley made derogatory remarks about Janicki and then proceeded to ban the entire Dodson family from the bar. Dodson said he decided to organize the protest because of Riley’s alleged discrimination.

Riley said he does not recall the incident with Janicki but does recall banning Rob Dodson, Brad’s father, from his bar.

“About five years ago Rob was in a fight here and broke a guy’s jaw and nose,” Riley said. “The case ended up in court and he tried telling the judge that I was paying him to hustle people at pool. I barred him for life after that fight and that’s really what this is about.”

Riley said that Rob Dodson was part of the East Side Mixed Pool League that had been playing at Ludington bars and at the Rendezvous. When he found out that Rob Dodson was in the league he let his staff know that Dodson was still banned from the establishment.

“This is retaliation because I won’t let Rob come into this place,” Riley said. “I don’t have anything against people with disabilities. That’s just not true. I’m trying to run a business here and we welcome anyone to our place, as long as they don’t get into fights. I think they are just exploiting this guy’s disability to get back at me. But, my customers know the type of business I run and this won’t deter them.”

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