Nellie’s Sports Bar in Washington DC is facing protests and a boycott after a video went viral showing a Black woman being dragged down a set of stairs by the bar’s security. The video was posted on social media early Sunday, June 13, 2021, and quickly spread, with hundreds of thousands of views on Instagram and Twitter. The bar, located at 900 U Street NW, has said it is investigating the incident.
The woman in the video has been identified on social media as 22-year-old Keisha Young. She told WUSA reporter John Henry, “There was an altercation in there and they were trying to get some other people out, because somebody else brought a bottle in there. Somehow I got mixed up in the altercation because I looked like somebody else. And I got hit and dragged down the steps. I didn’t do nothing wrong, and that’s all I remember. First walking up the steps and then getting dragged right back down the steps.”
Nellie’s Sports Bar wrote in a statement posted to its Facebook page on Sunday, “We were incredibly upset and disturbed to see the unfortunate event that took place at Nellie’s last night. We are undergoing a full investigation of the situation. At Nellie’s we foster an inclusive and safe environment, so events like this are completely unacceptable to us.” The bar’s owner, Douglas Schantz, could not be reached for comment by Heavy.
You can watch the video below and learn more about the incident and the reaction to it:
The Video Shows Nellie’s Sports Bar Security Dragging Keisha Young Down the Stairs by Her Limbs & Hair
The video shows Young being dragged by security down the stairs at Nellie’s Sports Bar. The security guards are holding Young’s arms, legs and hair as they pull her backward down the set of steps toward the bar’s exit. Young’s mother said on Instagram that Young’s cousins jumped in to help her and attacked the security officers after seeing Young being victimized.
Young’s mother, Tammy Young, who posted video of the incident on her Instagram page, added that the bar kept Young’s phone and glasses. Young told WUSA when asked about watching the video of the incident, “It’s a little bit much.” When asked what she wants to happen next she said, “I want them gone.”
According to WUSA, Nellie’s is popular with the LGBTQ+ community in DC and many of the patrons there on Saturday had been celebrating earlier in the day during the Pride parade in the city.
Protesters Gathered at the Home of Nellies Sports Bar’s Owner, Doug Schantz
Protesters gathered at Nellie’s Sports Bar Sunday night and also marched to the home of the bar’s owner, Doug Schantz, to call attention both to what happened to Young and to what they say is a history of unfair treatment toward the Black community by the sports bar. Schantz opened Nellie’s in 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Schantz, who is white, wrote on LinkedIn, “Consistently rated a top DC hot spot, Nellie’s Sports Bar is an integral part of the Washington, DC restaurant scene and the U Street/Cardozo/ Shaw community. We pride ourselves on our inclusive, welcoming atmosphere, our delicious food, our great staff and our fantastically diverse clientele.”
Activist Nee Nee Taylor told journalist Chuck Modi at the protest, “Nellie’s security felt that it was OK to escort one of their Black woman patrons out of the club by dragging her by her hair and throwing her out of the club. …Today I went in Nellie’s to retrieve Keisha’s property. I asked Doug to come down here and talk to Keisha, because Keisha just got out of the hospital. … The owner of Nellie’s don’t care enough about Black people to come and make sure his Black patron, Keisha, was safe and OK. So we asking people to protest and boycott Nellie’s. Because the owner, who is a white man, don’t care about Black women. If he cared, he would come out here and be concerned about what security done to a Black woman in his club.”
The sports bar apologized after sparking controversy in 2018 by flying a Blue Lives Matter flag, also known as a Thin Blue Line flag, outside during Pride month, according to the Washington Blade. Nellie’s said the flag was raised when a group of LGBT police officers gathered at the bar.
“Soon after the flag was hoisted, we learned from our customers and the community that this flag is also used to undermine the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, and we promptly removed it. We in no way meant to state that we are opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement, especially in the wake of Stephon Clark’s tragic death and the disturbing new facts coming to light in the Alton Sterling case,” the bar said in a Facebook post.
Writer Shamira Ibrahim tweeted, “Nellie’s has long had a problem with catering to the Black queer community on U St, it was an issue when I lived there a decade ago. This is so awful and I hope that woman has a strong network around her.”
Preston Mitchum, the director of policy at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, tweeted, “It isn’t lost on me that today many Black & brown queer, trans, & enby people were protesting Nellies’ Sports Bar bc of it’s anti-Black racism and for security dragging a Black woman down the steps. During Pride, a movement started largely by Black and brown trans women. This is an age-old tale. There’s a reason I wrote a letter against Nellies in 2017/2018 and actively tried to work on creating safe spaces and equity. It didn’t matter. #boycottnellies #NoPride4Nellies.”
Mitchum added, “I have a lot to say right not but I’ll keep it as short as possible: we do not need Nellies. We do not need any bar or restaurant that will respect Black $$$ more than our bodies and humanity. You haven’t had a negative experience at Nellies? Good. What does that mean to the many of us who have? Who have put ourselves on the line? Who have tried to make these places better for us ALL? Do we matter? Or just your fun?”
He continued, “Your fun should not matter more than the obvious amount of mistreatment Black patrons have discussed over the years. That self-interest is what’ll continue causing damage. This is not new. Myself and others have written letters, did interviews, conducted ‘sensitivity’ trainings, met with the owner, and even planted ourselves as observers to document our experiences. And this keeps happening. Nellies will not change because it doesn’t want to change.”
Young told WUSA, “I didn’t expect it to turn into something like this, to be honest, but I’m feeling very warm that a lot of people are out here helping support me.”
A GoFundMe Has Been Set Up for the Woman Who Was Dragged Down the Stairs & Her Family Is Pursuing a Lawsuit Against Nellie’s Sports Bar
A GoFundMe has been set up to help Young, who said she is bruised and her body aches. She said on the GoFundMe, “I am raising money for legal fees, medical bills & mental therapy. I am aching all over my body, I can’t walk straight because my hip is in pain. I’ve been struggling to sleep this whole situation got me anxious. Im feeling a little humiliated to have went viral being assaulted by a black man who should be protecting me. I am a college student i attend Morgan state University and am graduating next year and I’m just happy that it didn’t escalate too far and that I’m still here in my pain and grief still able to tell my story and get justice.”
Attorney Brandon Burrell, who is representing Young and her family, told the Washington City Paper they are exploring a civil lawsuit against Nellie’s, accusing the bar and its security of assault. He told the newspaper they are also considering filing a police report and have requested Nellie’s release surveillance video, if there is any.
Burrell told the City Paper, “I’m definitely not sure what Nellie’s policy is. I would say whatever their policy is … it definitely isn’t consistent with what the law is. I don’t think most people would think that their behavior was reasonable towards Keisha, nor would it be reasonable even towards the person who actually did bring the bottle, if anyone did bring a bottle.”