Fists Fly at the Hookah Bar

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September 1, 2010 4:50 p.m.

As we’ve been reporting, there have been a flurry of incidents around the country in recent weeks in which people have tried to intimidate or attack American Muslims or people they believed to be Muslims. But along with these ugly incidents there have been a backdrop of no less unfortunate cases of people who seemed to want to commit a hate crime but were either too drunk, too stupid or too disorganized to pull it off or even give a really clear idea of what they were trying to do.

Meet Kevin Morris, 31, of West Haven, Connecticut.

Last Thursday Morris swaggered into the Fire & Ice Hookah Lounge on Campbell Avenue in West Haven. Just what happened next isn’t entirely clear since there appears to be only one press account of the incident — and that one limited in detail. But after entering the Lounge, in the words of Amanda Pinto of the New Haven Register, Morris began “shout[ing] profanities and racial epithets at a group of black and Arabic people.”Pinto doesn’t say what the epithets were. And it’s not entirely clear what the clientele is or what kind of place the Fire & Ice Hookah Lounge is. But one thing’s clear: it ain’t a mosque. And while Middle East-themed and seemingly patronized by at least some people of Middle Eastern descent, the presence of the belly dancers, “Gina” and “Katie,” who perform on Friday evenings, suggests that if it caters to Muslims, it’s not for the particularly devout. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It seems like a fun place. Here are some pictures of recent evenings at the Lounge.)

In any case, Morris comes into the Lounge shouting his epithets, apparently really drunk and at some point tries to grab the bartender by the throat or strangle him or something. But things did not go well for Morris. The folks in the establishment were not interested in that kind of an evening and proceeded to administer Morris a serious beating. As Pinto put it, Morris “was punched in the face by at least one of the people he was shouting at” and when police finally arrived he was “bleeding profusely from the face.”

Morris was treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital and charged with 3rd degree intimidation due to bias and 2nd degree breach of peace. He is still in police custody.

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