When first-year medical student Sanjam Singh Samagh was questioned about his ID while trying to enter the Pierce Street Annex in Costa Mesa, it was not about his age, but rather because his profile picture showed him wearing a turban.
Samagh, a Sikh who wears a turban for religious reasons, is now working with the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund to take action against the Pierce Street Annex and the UCI Medical Department is officially boycotting the club.
Samagh arrived at the Pierce Street Annex to attend a fellow medical student’s birthday celebration. With a group of about 20 already waiting for his arrival, Samagh stood in line with several friends to get into the bar, which has a strict ‘no-hat’ policy. Samagh gave the bouncer his ID which pictured him with a turban, and after looking at it closely, the bouncer asked if the turban had religious significance.
After explaining that it did, the bouncer said he would have to check with the owner, Douglas Adsit, before allowing him to enter the bar. Once Adsit came out, he explained to Samagh that the bar had a ‘no-headgear’ policy and could not let him in.
‘By this time, all my friends inside the bar were wondering where I was so they came out to speak to the owner on my behalf,’ Samagh said.
After about 15 minutes, Adsit, who did not return the New University’s request for comment on the incident, allegedly told Samagh that ‘people with headgear cause problems’ and he couldn’t make an exception. After hearing this, Samagh and his group of friends left the bar to celebrate elsewhere.
Samagh’s first reaction was shock: ‘I was insulted, and couldn’t believe it happened, especially in a place like California where people seem to be pretty well-educated.’
He said he finds it unfair that Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and others are targeted just because they choose to wear religious head coverings.
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