A mixed-race couple says they were the target of a hate crime at the Triangle Tavern.
Nestor and Chongolola separately identified the same photograph and waited. Again. By the end of July, they called police. They say they were told that "since nobody had to go to the emergency room," it was just a simple assault, a charge reflected on the official police incident report.
Feeling that this was more than a run-of-the-mill simple assault--they call it a hate crime--the couple decided that, "If the police aren't going to do anything about it, we have to. This is about our civil rights."
In late August Chongolola filed complaints with the Liquor Control Board (LCB) and the city Commission on Human Relations (CHR). LCB spokesperson Francesca Chapman says there haven't been any dispositions against the Triangle since Dachino took over in 2005.
Jack Fingerman, a CHR spokesman, confirmed that the agency has received a complaint and, if necessary, will urge the police to delve deeper. Meanwhile, four information requests emailed to the police public affairs office went unanswered as of press time.
While the police remain mum on the status of the investigation, Dachino answered the Triangle Tavern phone last week. Asked about the allegations, he said, "It's bullshit. I talked to the detective last month. It's all bullshit."
"If this was something that randomly happened on the street, it would be easier to move on," says Chongolola.
For his part, Nestor just wants people to be aware that this "can and does still happen."
Nestor refuses to stop believing that the old-school feel of South Philadelphia is what makes the neighborhood unique. But he says it's been hard on them both.
"We've already been through a lot, with our different backgrounds, and this is tough to deal with as a couple," Chongolola says. "We were questioning ourselves: Did we overreact? It was overwhelming, a harsh blow to my self-esteem. We're not naive about race in America. Some people have asked us why we went to a place like this in the first place. Well, I don't want to think that we can or can't go certain places because of who we are. Now I wonder."
Brian Hickey is a freelance writer from Philadelphia.
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