Editor’s Note: The racially-insensitive language quoted in this article may be offensive to some readers.
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Byron Brown, a Portland native and self-proclaimed “ticket broker,” has been independently reselling tickets since he was 14 years old. But when he showed up to the Moda Center on Feb. 19 to sell Eagles tickets, he said it was not business as usual.
“Have I ever experienced racism? The answer is yes,” he said. “But it’s never been so outrageous, so disgusting, so vile, and right in your face.”
According to Brown, he was standing outside the garden garage when a security guard aggressively told him to go across the street. Brown refused to leave the public walkway and asked for a supervisor.
That’s when he said the guard uttered something he’ll never forget: “You don’t deserve to be here. Get back to the cotton field.”
“I say, ‘What?’ and he said it again,” Brown said, recalling the moment.
When he demanded to speak with the guard’s supervisor, Brown says the guard initially denied it. However, he shot a video on his cell phone that appears to show a woman in a Moda Center jacket confirming Brown’s side of the story.
According to the civil lawsuit filed last Thursday, Brown’s attorneys are seeking $750,000 from Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, the company managing the Moda Center, as well as Landmark Event Staffing Services, which employs security personnel.
“Mr. Brown’s incident is just one in any number of similar instances that black members of the community in particular have had to deal with, worry about, wonder about for a long time, and unfortunately, it’s still there,” said Adam Kiel, the attorney representing Brown.
Brown said he suffered feelings of embarrassment, frustration, anger, humiliation, vulnerability and racial stigmatization.
“Traumatized, disrespected, degraded, you can go on and on,” he said.
While the firm has brought race discrimination cases for decades, he says they’ve recently seen more support from Portland juries with two verdicts in the seven-figure range for similar cases within the last year.
“The thing that maybe has changed is that the rest of Portland is now more aware, I think, in large part to when the Black Lives Matter movement really kicked into gear, aware that this is something that the rest of Portland has to deal with,” Kiel said.
Kiel says as more people like Brown come forward with their stories and take a stand for accountability, together they can affect change.
“Change. So, it doesn’t happen again,” Brown said. “Wouldn’t that be the goal?”