Were These Women Kicked Off a Wine Tour Train Because They're Black?
Members of a book club say they were kicked off a train traveling through California wine country for apparently laughing too loud.
Novelist Lisa Johnson and 10 girlfriends boarded the Napa Valley Wine Train for a day of wine tasting and beautiful scenery.
She told INSIDE EDITION: "We were so exicted. We had been planning this trip for about a year."
However, their excursion went off track.
"We were approached by the matre d' and told us that we were going to have to keep the noise level down a little bit because one of the passengers was complaining. Then the matre d' came over a second time and said: 'That's it! This is not going to work. People are complaining,'" she said.
Lisa says no one in her group was intoxicated. She does acknowledge that they were at times rambunctious, which she says didn’t seem to bother most people on the train.
But she says after two scoldings by the wine train manager, they were told they'd have to get off at the next stop.
Lisa posted a photo of her friends looking glum. She wrote: “We're in purgatory....waiting for our escort off the train...”
The police were waiting for the women at the next station.
"All of the passengers were looking at us, imaginging only what us 11 African-American women could have done that could get us escorted off the train? It was embarrassing. It was demoralizing. I am truly, truly humilated," she said.
Another passenger on the train says she "...watched in disbelief as staff harassed a group of people who were merely drinking wine and laughing...given the fact that other, non-black guests were behaving in the same way and not removed, I can only conclude that it was discrimination."
A spokesman for the Wine Train denies that and told INSIDE EDITION in a statement: "We received complaints from several parties. Our staff made three attempts to request the 11 guests reduce their noise level. After the third attempt, we requested they leave the train. We fully refunded their trip costs."
The statement added: "We want to apologize to them for their experience and listen to their concerns and complaints."
In a fuller statement, CEO Anthony Giaccio said: "The Napa Valley Wine Train was 100% wrong in its handling of this issue. We accept full responsibility for our failures and for the chain of events that led to this regrettable treatment of our guests."
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