Family Claims Restaurant Owner's Wife Called Cops on 17-Year-Old Girl Over Objections to Her Outfit

Earlier this week, New Orleans police were called to Lula Restaurant Distillery to investigate a disturbance regarding a "female's attire," distressing 17-year-old Sanai Butler and her family. Now, they are claiming that the wife of the restaurant's owner made the phone call simply because she objected to Sanai's outfit, according to The New Orleans Advocate. In addition, Sanai's mother, La Shawn Butler, says that she feels as though the wife's actions were "racially motivated" because everyone in their party was Black.

"This is a child at the end of the day—if you had something to say about her outfit, you could've approached me as her mother," she told the newspaper.

On Tuesday, Sanai and 28 of her friends and family members went to eat at the restaurant to celebrate the student's graduation from Warren Easton Charter School. In honor of the occasion, Sanai apparently decided to dress up. She wore a bikini top and matching leggings to the eatery, according to the Advocate. In addition, she accessorized with a stole and a mortarboard.

At one point during the meal, which cost $2,000, Sanai and several of her cousins left the table to use the restroom. When Sanai returned to the table, she was "visibly upset" because a white woman who identified herself as the wife of Lula's owner had ordered her to exchange her bikini top for a shirt, calling the top "very inappropriate," La Shawn Butler told the Advocate. Subsequently, the same woman came up to the Butlers' table and told them that she could say whatever she wanted because she owned the business, La Shawn said, adding that the restaurant did not appear to have a formal dress code.

Two hours into the meal, marked New Orleans Police Department squad cars pulled up. Mindful of the circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd, the Black man who was murdered by a police officer a year ago that day for allegedly trying to pay with a counterfeit $20 bill, La Shawn said that she was frightened.

"That could've gone so many different ways," she said.

However, the officers, who left without making any arrests, seemed nonplussed by the reason they'd been called, a former Lula employee who wished to remain anonymous told the Advocate.

"It didn't have to get to that point," the employee said, adding that she had quit in protest.

By contrast, Lula issued a statement that alleged that the police were called in response to a "verbal altercation."

Log into Facebook to start sharing and connecting with your friends, family, and people you know.

"The police were called after three disruptive, adult patrons engaged with another table of patrons, and one of the female owners of Lula," the statement reads.

Sanai, who will be attending Talladega College in Alabama in the fall, issued a statement of her own in which she described her experience at Lula as "horrible and sad." She declined to be interviewed by the Advocate.

Newsweek tried to contact Lula Restaurant Distillery for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Two little Black girls eat a meal.
Two little Black girls eat a meal. The Butler family of New Orleans alleges that the wife of the owner of local restaurant Lula called the police on 17-year-old Sanai Butler because she felt that her clothing was inappropriate. Joshua Lott/Getty Images