The owner of a Colombian restaurant on Saratoga Street and police traded accusations of insolence at a hearing today on incidents during and following the Colombia/Brazil World Cup match on July 4.
El Kiosko, 972 Saratoga St., was before the Boston Licensing Board to explain a patron brawl just outside its doors and how a customer came to be found holding a nearly full liqueur bottle. Police also cited the restaurant for hindering aninvestigation into the brawl. The board decides Thursday what action, if any, to take.
Sgt. James Meredith of A-7, who investigated the brawl, and Det. Sgt. Robert Mulvey, who investigated how a patron came to be in possession of a bottle of aguardiente, said managers tried to get the Spanish-speaking customers and employees to stop talking to police - or tried to put words in their mouths.
Mulvey said that as he was interviewing a server about the bottle of aguardiente in English, a manager came up to him and the server and began talking to her in Spanish. "I had to tell him to back off; I had my hand up," Mulvey said, putting his hand up before the board in a stop motion to illustrate the moment.
Meredith said that after he wrote up a citation for the brawl and its aftermath and handed it to a manager, she signed a receipt, then slammed her pen down and exclaimed "Oh, it must be nice to be white!"
At the hearing, she did not deny slamming her pen down, but denied saying that - she said she told Meredith that "this would not be happening if this was a different clientele and a different business."
That brought rebukes from both board Chairwoman Nicole Murati Ferrer, herself latina, and board member Suzanne Ianella. Both said the police were only doing their job in investigating the incidents - and that the manager and her staff need to calm down and not interfere.
"Quite frankly, they're there to do a job," Ferrer said. "You and your staff do not need to interject yourselves into their investigation."
Ianella said the licensing detectives routinely write citations across the city, from the fanciest hotels to the grittiest bars. "It's not about clientele, they're just doing their job," she said.
The manager accused Meredith of trying to intimidate an employee who started recording the scene with her phone "because it was outrageous" by telling her that was illegal.
Meredith said he only said anything because he noticed the woman was at first holding the phone behind her and that he told her that secretly recording somebody's voice is illegal in Massachusetts. "I just warned her about that," he said, adding if the recording really showed anything outrageous, he has no doubt she would have played it for the board. She did not.