Cortlynn Stark, The Black Bear – Missouri State University students and Springfield residents marched downtown last night, taking a stand against discriminatory practices at Zan, a popular nightclub.
The protest was organized by Missouri State senior, Dylyn Florence, after he witnessed his friends being discriminated against twice.
Originally, only Florence and three of his friends were going to protest. Florence then created an event on Facebook called “Bears say NO to Zan” to promote it.
“Just start inviting people just start telling people,” Florence told his friends. “We’re going to protest because enough is enough.”
The crowd first started massing around 10:30 p.m. Thursday night on the northwest corner of the Park Central Square square. By 11 p.m. nearly 60 people had arrived.
At 11:25 p.m., the crowd silently marched from the town square to stand on the sidewalk and street outside Zan while carrying signs calling for change.
When they arrived, a police officer requested the protesters to stand on the sidewalk as much as possible so they did not block traffic. The protesters peacefully obliged, moving onto the sidewalk and leaving the street mostly clear.
For 15 minutes, the protesters silently stood in front of Zan. Their signs said things like “what’s the dress code? #Discrimination,” or “stop the discrimination.”
However, the protest did nothing to ebb the flow of people going to the club. People of both races were let inside.
As the night went on, one Caucasian man was turned away claiming “they didn’t let me in because I agreed with you guys.” He then asked for a sign so he could join the protest.
The general manager of Zan, Ryan Warren, came outside at one point during the protest. Florence said he overheard Warren saying to one of his bouncers something vulgar about the protesters and went back inside the club.
Management never responded to The Black Bear with a statement on the protest.
At 11:45 p.m., the protesters left, except for nine people who continued to stand silently in front of Zan.
Zan has been accused by several people as being discriminatory towards African Americans. This story is an ongoing investigation.