PEORIA, Ill.– One Peoria City Council member has prepared a formal complaint against a local bar owner after he imposed a brief “No dreadlocks” policy.
In June, Saddle Up owner Ty Seibert sparked controversy for denying people with dreadlocks from entering for one night. He claimed he did it after catching several people with dreadlocks smoking weed in the months prior.
Seibert said the policy was created to stop marijuana use in the nightclub. In the post, Seibert states, “Over the past 7 months 9 of the 11 people we caught lighting up marijuana had dreadlocks.” So he “made the decision to add no dreadlocks” to the club’s code of conduct.
Councilwoman Denise Moore’s complaint alleges Seibert knowingly did not notify officials of illegal activity in his club, which she claims is a violation. Moore says the city needs to look into it what happened.
“Anyone who has a liquor license understands that if anything illegal happens in their facility, they are supposed to report that,” said Moore. “Had he come to the city, to the police, or the liquor commission with his concern we would have provided him with a legal method to address these times. But he didn’t do that.”
On June 22, several people claimed they were denied access to the club because of their hair. Kamal Evans, who has dreadlocks, told WMBD he tried entering the club but was turned away.
“I was hired at the post office. So I can handle a government job, but I can’t come into your establishment,” Evans told WMBD in June. “For you to just see my dreads and assume ‘trouble maker’ is pretty bad.”
Seibert has maintained he was within his rights to make that decision, referring to a federal appellate court that upheld a no-dread hiring policy.
In his Facebook posts he stated, “It is 100% legal to restrict.”
Moore and several Peoria residents disagree.
At least 25 Peoria residents, including Moore, signed and filed a petition alleging Seibert violated the Civil Rights section of the city’s Liquor Code.
“That’s the same as saying […] they have blonde hair and you don’t like blonde hair and you’re not going to let them in. That’s illegal. You can’t do that,” said Moore.
The city’s legal department has not commented if Seibert violated city rules, despite several attempts by WMBD. It is also unclear what happens when a sitting council member submits a formal complaint of a business.
Moore insists she does not want to shut down Seibert’s business, saying she believes in second and third chances for entrepreneurs. But Moore would like to see Seibert undergo some form of diversity training. The complaint, she says, pushes the city to look into matter.
“I’m always looking to develop more small businesses, to encourage people to take a chance and run an operation. But it needs to be run correctly,” she said.
Seibert says he has not seen or been notified of either complaint.