The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a frequent Fox News contributor and WND columnist, has been booted and banned for life from the Los Angeles gym where he has been a member for more than six years.
Equinox Sports Club, part of a national chain of fitness clubs, evicted the outspoken radio host on Aug. 11 after a confrontation that Peterson says was ignited by his support for President Trump.
Peterson told WND he often works out at the gym and occasionally conducts radio interviews there when he gets a request on short notice.
“For the last five years, I’ve been doing interviews there whenever they pop up, and this time I got a call from Bill Cunningham, so I do what I normally do. I stepped into what looked like a utility closet, a small room, and this worker came and said, ‘You gotta go.’ So I said, ‘OK, just give me a few minutes.'”
The employee left and then came back with a manager named Scott Marlow, who lists his position on LinkedIn as an assistant general manager with Equinox.
Marlow is accused of “charging” at Peterson “in a physically and imminently threatening manner, coming within inches of his face,” according to a letter to Equinox from Peterson’s attorneys. “Scott then yelled, ‘You support Donald Trump!”
Marlow went on an “insane” rant, “screaming and yelling at me that I needed to leave immediately,” Peterson told WND.
“It was just so insane how he went off on me, so I stepped out of this utility closet. He got in my face and started yelling and screaming. I lost my call, and he said, ‘You gotta go now,’ and I asked why he was asking me to leave. He told the other worker to go and call the cops.”
Peterson said it quickly became obvious why he was no longer welcome. He believes his interview comments to Cunningham were overheard by the employee, who reported what he heard to the manager. Peterson said he discussed racial and political issues and defended Trump during the interview.
Peterson often addresses controversial racial issues and calls on black families to return to God and forgive past “sins” that were committed generations ago yet were passed down through families, stirring ancient hatreds against whites in today’s society. He doesn’t believe most whites are racist and says they should not accept the guilt-by-association heaped upon them by liberals of all races.
When Marlow walked away, he said, “You said there is no such thing as racism, and all you Trump supporters are alike,” Peterson said.
“That’s when I said, ‘Oh, that’s what this is all about,’ and he just went off again. He said, ‘We’re going to cancel your membership immediately and you can never come back here.'”
Peterson says he asked to see another manager but was refused, so he left.
“This guy was bullying me, harassing me, and I have to say I grew up working in the cotton fields of Alabama and participated in sit-ins for the right to vote and I never was treated like that,” Peterson told WND. “I was punished back in those days for not having the right to vote, and now I’m being punished for who I voted for.”
A call to Marlow Tuesday was not immediately returned. A phone operator at the local club referred WND to Equinox headquarters in New York, where, after spending half an hour on hold trying to get through to a media spokesperson, the call was dropped.
Peterson, 68, said Marlow followed him to his locker, where he gathered his things and he was escorted out of the building.
In the letter from his attorney to Equinox, Peterson demands an apology, the immediate termination of Scott Marlow and a donation of $200,000 to his ministry. Peterson runs the L.A.-based Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny ministry, also called BOND.
“I even apologized for saying ‘get out of my face’ and reached out my hand to shake his hand and that’s when he said ‘all you Trump supporters are alike.’ That’s when I realized what was happening,” Peterson said.
Peterson said he filed a complaint with the company through corporate channels, but when he received no response after 10 days he contacted his attorney.
“My civil rights were violated. It was evil. It was wrong,” he told WND. “I have a right to vote for who I want. All the ladies at the club talk about Hillary, and they have no problems. I wasn’t breaking any rules at the gym, so I can’t just sit back and take that. They gave me no response at all in the complaints department.
“I am wondering if they did it because I am black and I support Trump. I don’t know.”
Peterson’s spokesman, Ermias Alemayehu, said he sees the treatment of his boss as just the latest incident in a pattern of bad behavior on the part of progressives still chewing sour grapes over the election one year ago.
“Trump supporters being abused and mistreated is a real thing, and if they can do it to a black pastor and get away with it – they’ll do it to anyone,” Alemayehu said. “Even Sen. Rand Paul was physically attacked by a leftist this weekend.”
Peterson said that since his experience, he’s been contacted by others in Southern California who voted for Trump and have encountered hostile Hillary supporters.
“Several have called me and said they experienced similar actions for having Trump stickers on their cars or wearing a T-shirt, and many say they are afraid to let it be known now that they supported Trump because of the violence.”
In late August, a school teacher in Cherokee County, Georgia, was suspended with pay after she ordered two students to turn their “Make America Great Again” T-shirts inside out or leave her classroom.
“I’ve been hearing stories like that around the country,” Peterson said. “There are no words to express how bad it was. It is known across the gym that I am a Trump supporter. I even had a bet with a guy for five dollars that he would win. It is known around the gym, and I was told it was a liberal gym, but I get along with the people there. I’ve been there a long time and never had any problems at all until this.”
Peterson’s attorney, Anthony Kohrs, said: “[T]he conduct of Equinox employees was shocking and reprehensible, and there is certainly no place for this sort of bigotry in this country.”
Below is a copy of Kohrs’ letter, dated Oct. 19, to Equinox management.