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Controversial Ebola party bar builds bridges

BAD TASTE: The front of Bar Risa as it hosted an Ebola-themed Halloween party

OWNERS OF a bar which sparked outrage after holding an Ebola-themed Halloween party have taken to the airwaves to build bridges with the African Caribbean community who were repulsed by the bar’s lack of sensitivity.

Simon Kaye, the chief operating officer of iINTERTAIN Ltd, which owns Bar Risa, based in Birmingham’s Broad Street, spoke out this week on New Style Radio, the city’s only African Caribbean community radio station, and acknowledged that the party had been in poor taste.

The student party, held on October 30 and run by a third party promoter, was hailed “a huge error of judgement” by Bar Risa, which pledged to donate all profits to the charity Doctors Without Borders.

Material promoting the event had stated that the immediate area around the bar had been “infected” by the deadly Ebola disease and the World Health Organisation was advising students to enter the bar for “decontamination and quarantine.”

Kaye spoke publicly this week with community activist Desmond Jaddoo, who hosts a weekly Political Hour talk show on New Style, along with civil rights activist Maxie Hayles and Charlie Williams, founder of Birmingham Strong 4 Justice. He agreed on an action plan to ensure the club never repeats such a distasteful event.

And he also confirmed that Bar Risa will no longer act as a meeting point for any future English Defence League (EDL) rallies in Birmingham.

Less than three weeks before the controversial Halloween party, the bar had hit the headlines for agreeing to host the EDL protesters, claiming they had been put under pressure from West Midlands Police as the bar is of a suitable size.

Kaye, told The Voice: “Yes we have agreed that we will no longer be hosting any future EDL supporters who want to hold rallies in the city.

“I have spoken to leading community activists within the African Caribbean community and this has given us the chance to build bridges.

“The whole Halloween party was a misjudgement – young people like to celebrate Halloween by frightening people and this was clearly unwitting. We immediately recognised that this had caused offence, so I approached Desmond to discuss it.

“I would now like to think that we are considered friends of the African Caribbean community and look forward to inviting them to the bar. We have an event at the end of December which will by attended by almost entirely African Caribbeans, although this customer base is not new for us.”

Jaddoo, who drew up the action plan with Kaye said: “Part of the action plan includes Bar Risa agreeing to have regular race awareness and training with community consultation and engagement in order to better understand that what appears harmless fun to one person could be offensive to another.

“Through this engagement, all participants will develop a clearer understanding of the various cultures that exist in a diverse city such as Birmingham.

“We are happy that Bar Risa has openly acknowledged its shortcomings and no further action will be taken. This is a clear example of how bridges can be built in a constructive manner and community activists commend iNTERTAIN Ltd for their cooperation in resolving this highly sensitive issue.”

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