CANTON – Chad Patterson plays golf at DCR's Ponkapoag course every chance he gets. He developed a love for the sport from his grandfather and his dad. Chad calls the game beautiful and is working on honing his skills.
Nearly two weeks ago Patterson, who is Black, was out on the fairway getting ready to take a shot when he was approached by two White DCR workers in a golf cart.
"One of the gentlemen was rude really hostile accusatory of me that he kicked me off the course earlier that day. I thought he was joking initially because I see them all the time," Patterson said.
Patterson said the worker was adamant, aggressive and refused to back down even though his supervisor, who was in the cart with him, repeatedly said he had the wrong guy.
"I realized he mistaken me for another person who is African American," Patterson said, adding he told the worker, "I told him 'Hey you have the wrong Black guy.'"
"He said 'No you need to get off the course. I kicked you off the course," Patterson said.
That was not true. Patterson said he has never been asked to leave Ponkapoag or any other golf course.
"Not only was I horrified, I felt I was being prejudged because of my color and I also felt really disrespected," Patterson said.
The worker eventually listened to his supervisor and the men drove away. Not long after, Patterson said the supervisor returned to apologize. At that point, Patterson said not only did he feel belittled, racially profiled, and wrongfully accused, but also thought the apology itself was less respectful to him since the worker didn't apologize and take accountability himself.
Patterson sent an email to DCR about his experience but got no response, so he contacted the I-Team.
"You all were the actual news station that took the story on and gave your support holistically. I really appreciate that because that means a lot," Patterson said.
After the I-Team started asking questions, a DCR spokesperson responded with a statement.
Upon receiving Mr. Patterson's email, DCR immediately began an investigation into the allegations, which is ongoing. [DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo] has reached out to Mr. Patterson to discuss his experience at Ponkapoag and the employee in question has been placed on investigative leave. The behavior described does not reflect DCR's mission of ensuring that our properties are welcoming places for all of our residents to enjoy.
The I-Team has learned that employee has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
Patterson said historically, things like this are swept under the rug.
"I like to use these moments of adversity as a way to grow. I'm really fortunate I was able to handle the situation in an appropriate manner with professionalism and not combat that with the disrespect I was receiving," Patterson said, vowing to not let what happened stop him from growing in the sport he loves.
Patterson is planning to meet with DCR in the coming days. He told the I-Team he is not looking for anything for himself. Rather, he wants DCR to create a welcoming atmosphere and a program to expose young African American and diverse people to the game of golf.
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