A video posted to social media that shows a gay man and transgender women being violently thrown out of a Los Angeles bar has sparked widespread outrage. As part of DTLA Proud, the city’s pride event, a group of transgender women and other volunteers for a LGBTQ non-profit, appear to be assaulted and aggressively manhandled while being thrown out of the restaurant.
Protesters rallied Saturday and Sunday after two transgender women and a queer man were forcibly thrown out of Las Perlas, a downtown bar after the group were verbally assaulted in a transphobic attack, they allege.
The video posted Saturday shows bar bouncers grab and throw out a man, then grab and drag the women with one, Jennifer Bianchi, yelling for them not to touch her “like that.” She can be seen with a security guard forcibly yanking and dragging her as she tries to fight back. Another bouncer is seen with his arms around another woman’s neck as he too drags her.
The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. The restaurant first said its staff acted within its policy. Now say they’re going to re-hire, re-train and try to re-build trust.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Video Shows Las Perlas Security Violently Throwing Transgender Women & Gay Man From the Bar. One Bouncer Puts a Woman in a Head Lock
It’s reported by witnesses and those were ejected, that a group from Bienestar Health Services, which included transgender women, were violently thrown out of a downtown LA bar after a confrontation where another group at the bar is alleged to have begun throwing transphobic slurs and threats to harm the Bienestar party.
Khole Perez-Rios, Bienestar community health advocate and transgender program manager, wrote on Facebook, “Last night after staff from Bienestar Human Services attempted to celebrate our participation as DTLA Proud, we were discriminated and forcefully removed from LAS PERLAS bar on 107 E 6th st. It all began after a couple who where customers became very aggressive calling transphobic slurs to all the people on our table, things like ‘you all are dudes’ get out of here ‘you faggots’ you don’t belong here ‘MEN’ and the worst ‘WE WILL COMEBACK AND KILL YOU!,” Bienestar wrote on Facebook.
“At this point and in the chaos, security begun to remove the biological women without any force, and all of us from the community where carried out and thrown outside. Police filed a hate crime incident report. However, I want to make sure our community is safe and careful in this vicinity since we have DTLA Proud going on and this bar is right next to REDLINE a popular community bar.”
“I need all organizations and people who work with us to please spread the message. Our community is not safe in Downtown LA.”
In an Instagram post, Bienestar Health wrote, “Regarding the incident that took place last night at Las Perlas bar in downtown LA, be in star will be following up with law-enforcement and will investigate further the violation of rights and violence taken by the bar in their desire to remove paint stores trans gender staff and participants the irony and sadness is that this weekend is DTLA proud where the goal is to celebrate in a safe and welcoming environment all LGBT identities in downtown Los Angeles.”
The LAPD is Investigating the Incident as a Possible Hate Crime
Los Angeles Police Assistant Chief Director of the Office of Special Operations Beatrice Girmala tweeted Saturday that her department is “investigating.”
“LAPD is investigating the incident at Las Perlas restaurant in DTLA. Please know that the Department is committed to ensuring the safety of every Angeleno, as well as the right of all to live their true lives in peace, harmony, and free from anxiety or fear #lapd”
“Whether in public, or inside of a private establishment, all Angelenos deserve the freedom to coexist in harmony. Although we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, rest assured the LAPD will thoroughly investigate the incident at Las Perlas.”
Protests Sprang Up Outside the Restaurant After the Incident
Journalist and activist for Fenton Progress Nicholas Turton described what happened.
He wrote that “trans women and queer men were forcibly removed …against their will after being subject to #transphobia #hate and #homophobia. After speaking at the opening ceremony for @DTLAProud on the rise of hate and violence experienced by trans women of color, the group celebrated the night with drinks at the DTLA establishment. The incident began when a heterosexual couple approached them. The heterosexual couple began to call the group transphobic slurs, misgendering them by calling them ‘men’ and eventually shouting and threatening to ‘Come back and kill you!’
Turton wrote that the Bienestar group tried to deescalate the situation.
“The group of trans women remained calm and collected and tried to de-escalate the situation. After being pushed aggressively by the couple, (restaurant) security began forcibly removing the trans women and queer men from the bar – but not the couple. A hate incident report has been filed with (Los Angles police),” he wrote, adding, “Las Perlas must speak for how it handled this situation.”
Las Perlas Addressed the Violent Incident Twice Beginning With a Statement That Its Security ‘Removed’ Patrons Per Their Policy & Then Promising an Investigation, New Hires & New Sensitivity Training
Initially saying its staff responded per its company policy, Las Perlas took to social to explain itself. In its first Instagram post addressing the incident, Las Perlas wrote on Saturday, in a statement from Cedd Moses, Pouring with Heart, the company that owns Las Perlas: “Last evening, an escalated verbal altercation broke out among two groups of guests at Las Perlas. Our manager on duty asked both groups to leave as the safety and security of our patrons and employees is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior in our establishments. The guards removed the guests that were not compliant with the manager’s request to leave and did so in accordance with company policy.” “This was a rare and unfortunate incident as Las Perlas has provided an inclusive and welcoming environment since it opened almost 10 years ago. We will continue to value and celebrate the diversity of the downtown Los Angeles community we are so proud to be a part of and all profits from Las Perlas during this weekend’s DTLA PROUD (8/23- 8/25) will be donated to Bienestar Human Services.
By Sunday, it had taken a different tack.
“On Friday night there was an altercation at Las Perlas and our outside security staff removed several patrons from both sides of the altercation. Our first and primary concern, and has been from day one, is to operate a safe place for all people. Period, no exceptions. We regret that didn’t happen Friday night, and want to apologize to all of our guests including the Transgender community, a community who has come to our bar as well as works there. We are taking immediate steps to fully investigate what happened on Friday and to address each concern that we’ve received since then.
To begin to make this right we commit immediately to the following actions:
1. We are hiring a new security company for Las Perlas that has received sensitivity training.
2. We have retained outside counsel to review the tapes and actions from Friday night to make more specific analysis of exactly what happened and how to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
3. We are committed to working with the community and we are researching the right partner to help us move forward in the most positive way possible including staff and vendor training.
This incident is not in alignment with who we are and our intent is to prove this in action and deed, not words and hyperbole. Thank you for giving us this chance.”
LGBTQ Activists & Artists, Including Aja, Called Out the Bar For ‘Treating Queer People Like Trash’
Aja, the stage name of Jay Rivera, a Brooklyn drag artist who competed on the ninth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, wrote on Instagram, “Making this post because I do not support establishments that treat queer people like trash. In the videos I’ve seen, these trans women were wrangled by force out of this establishment.
According to other witnesses, the other party they are speaking about was not escorted out. Do not support this business. They have a responsibility to admit they were being transphobic. But this statement they posted is literal back tracking.
The trans umbrella needs all the support they can get from us and as a NB person who passes as Cis, it is my responsibility to use my platform to speak up about these situations.
AND yes some people will say that some establishments can kick people out as they please – however… if it were a racial thing people would lose their shit. Let’s not turn a blind eye to this situation.”