Fallout continues from alleged discriminatory incident: “Only crime was being black on a public golf course”

April 26, 2018

The fallout continues from an incident over the weekend at a Pennsylvania golf course during which a fivesome of African-American women alleged they were the victims of discriminatory treatment.

On Saturday at Grandview Golf Club in York County, Penn., the owner and two of his employees confronted the group of women after nine holes and requested they leave the course due to slow play. When that conversation reached no immediate resolution, they called the police, who ultimately left the scene without filing any charges.

But when one of the women, Sandra Thompson, alleged the group was treated differently due to their skin color, the story quickly gained national attention. The Associated Press followed up and the story made headlines in countless outlets including the Washington Post and New York Times.

Celebrities chimed in, too. “We’ve heard multiple stories about people getting the cops called on them for being black in public. But yesterday’s story might be the craziest,” said Daily Show host Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s episode.

John Legend sent out a tweet linking to the article. “Please stop calling the police on black people who are just trying to live,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, the five women — Thompson, 50; Myneca Ojo, 56; sisters Sandra Harrison, 59, and Carolyn Dow, 56, and Karen Crosby, 58 — continued to question the reasoning behind their dismissal from the course. “Many of us were having great drive days. We were slamming that ball,” Thompson told the New York Times. “So when they were trying to say ‘too slow of a pace,’ that was just false.”

“I felt we were discriminated against,” Ojo said. “It was a horrific experience.”

Their account was corroborated by Damen Carter-Mann, who was playing golf in a threesome behind the group of women.

“Not one time, from (hole) 1 to 9, did we catch up with those ladies,” Carter-Mann told the York Daily Record. “If that’s what was happening, if they were targeted because of their gender or because of their race, it’s a shame. We are in 2018, this should not be happening.”

Carter-Mann said he offered for the women to tee off before him on No. 10 to diffuse the situation, but was waved off by one of the course’s employees.

Co-owners Jordan and J.J. Chronister expressed regret at the incident but stood by their intentions in a statement to Fox 43.

“While our intention was to ensure all teams on the course were moving through in a timely manner, the interaction between our members and our ownership progressed in a manner that was not reflective of our company’s values or expectations for our own professionalism.”

For its part, the police department said the call from the course was unprecedented. Northern York County Regional police Chief Mark Bentzel told Penn Live he couldn’t remember officers ever being called to Grandview Golf Club. They interviewed several parties before leaving without filing charges, telling the New York Times they “quickly determined that this was not a police issue.”

Across the state, similarly named Grand View Golf Club in Pittsburgh has felt the fallout from the incident as well, receiving a flood of complaints on various social media platforms. “We are NOT the Grandview golf course currently featured in the news for being discriminatory. We are completely unaffiliated with them,” the Pittsburgh course’s Twitter bio read. The course has also invited the group of women to play Grand View in Pittsburgh, suggesting it offers a “far better golfing experience.”

Now, State Senator Vincent Hughes is calling for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission to investigate the incident, according to Penn Live. 

“I’m just so damned frustrated,” Hughes said in a news release. “We have to deal with situations like this too frequently. This time, police determined it was not a matter they should have been involved in, but it is appalling that someone would call the police for a non-violent incident where the only crime was being black on a public golf course.”