After months of investigation, a Charlotte committee has decided there's no pattern of racial discrimination at a popular uptown Charlotte destination.
The city's Community Relations Committee began investigating the EpiCentre in June, after Phillip Agnew was arrested and charged with trespassing for refusing to turn his hat around. Agnew said he was targeted by security guards because of his race.
"It was my first time ever being arrested, first time in the back of a police car," Agnew said.
Agnew was at EpiCentre in early June to enjoy the Alive After Five outdoor concert. Police said he refused to turn his hat forward when a security guard confronted him, and the guard called police.
"I felt like my rights were infringed upon," he said.
The City Council asked its Community Relations Committee to investigate Agnew's claim of racial discrimination.
Executive Director Willie Ratchford said the biggest challenge to the investigation was a lack of witnesses who saw the confrontation between Agnew and the security guard.
"So the next best thing that we could do is actually go out and test, and then make comparisons of the treatment of the testers," Ratchford said.
The city conducted an experiment two weeks ago, during another Alive After Five concert. Six volunteers -- three black men, three white men -- entered EpiCentre at different times, all wearing backwards hats.
Five of the six were asked by security guards to turn their hats around.
The volunteers took notes and pictures and were paid $50.
On Wednesday afternoon, the CRC ruled there's no basis to say there's a pattern of racial discrimination.
"We wanted to make a reasonable determination based upon facts," Ratchford said.
There is a dress code posted at EpiCentre, and it states backwards hats aren't allowed.
"They've got the right to have a dress code, but if they selectively enforce it, and if that dress code specifically targets a specific audience, I think that's wrong," Agnew said. "I was hoping we could work on that and fix that, but it doesn't feel like that will happen now."
Eyewitness News left several messages and emails Wednesday afternoon with EpiCentre management. No one returned those calls.
Agnew has been handing out flyers at EpiCentre on weekend nights, asking people not to go inside.
He said he'll keep handing out flyers through next year's Democratic National Convention, asking out-of-town guests not to patronize its businesses.