Security in a Los Angeles bar physically abducted a group of transgender women after being harassed and assaulted by a heterosexual couple, according to a video and women's accounts of the incident, which is currently being targeted of an investigation for hate crime.
Las Perlas, a popular bar in downtown Los Angeles, is now facing calls for a boycott after the images went viral this weekend, showing security agents grabbing several trans women and forcibly dragging them out . The women claimed to have been violently chased away on Friday night after a couple in the bar shouted insults at them and physically assaulted them.
"It's so traumatic," Jennifer Bianchi, one of the women whose removal was filmed, told the Guardian on Monday. "I think it was an assault and that it was a violation of my human rights."
The police have since opened an investigation into hate crimes.
The controversy comes as rumors point to an upsurge in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the United States, growing concern over the killing of transsexual women, and the many efforts by the United States. Trump administration to allow companies to discriminate against trans and queer people.
A group of transgender women, gay men and a non-binary person went to the bar together Friday night after the DTLA Proud Festival, an event celebrating the LGBTQ community of downtown. At one point, a heterosexual couple began harassing women by calling them repeatedly, said Bianchi, who was in Las Perlas with colleagues at Bienestar, a social services organization.
"They said we did not belong to this place. They said we were men with wigs. They called us a lot of terrible things, "said Khloe Rios, program and transgender services manager for Bienestar. She said that they had tried to ignore the harassment, but the man then approached them and finally slapped her friend. "We tried to protect her."
Instead of trying to protect women from abuse, the bar's safety then decided to expel the group of eight LGBTQ people, as well as the couple, said the women, adding that the security was particularly aggressive with trans women.
The video of Rios on his mobile phone captured a security guard putting his arms around Bianchi as she said, "Do not touch me like that! I need my shoe. We then saw the guard push her and wrap him around before forcing her to the door.
The video also captured a guard grabbing another woman from the group, passing her arm around her neck and forcing her out, while she said, "What happened?" The guardian l & rsquo; Pushed out of the bar while seeming to hold her by the head.
"They started throwing us against the wall, dragging us through the bar and being violent to us," Rios said, adding, "They did not use force for them."
Rios said that she had stopped filming while she was being dragged out.
By abducting the women, the security forces also put them at greater risk, said Bianchi, noting that the man who had harassed them had become more violent outside the bar, grabbing a piece of metal on the sidewalk and threatening to murder.
"He was violent. Why would they kick us out? They put our lives in danger, "she said.
The man, who has not been identified, continued to shout insults on the outside, she recalls. "He said that he was going to come back and shoot us all."
Cedd Moses, CEO of Pouring With Heart, the company that owns Las Perlas, defended the treatment of women by the bar, saying in a statement: "Our service manager has asked both groups to leave as protectors of our Customers and employees is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior … The guards withdrew the guests who did not comply with the request of the manager to leave and they did so in accordance with the company policy. "
He added that Las Perlas would donate the benefits of the weekend to Bienestar.
In a subsequent statement on Facebook, the Bar Association apologized to the trans community and said that he was hiring a new security firm "that has received awareness training" and hired an outside lawyer to review the company. 39; incident.
Rios said the bar's response was inadequate and that the incident had recalled a trauma.
"Every day, I see cases of transgender women being discriminated against, bullied or killed," she said, noting that the bar was leaving them in a vulnerable position where they could have been murdered. "We could have a vigil right now. I could have been number 17 for trans women this year. (At least 16 trans people were killed in the United States in 2019, mostly trans women.)
Rios said she was trying to stay strong as an advocate and use the experience to push for reforms, such as stronger anti-discrimination policies and better training in bars. from Los Angeles.
The women filed a report on hate crimes with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Police announced in a statement that she "would investigate the incident," adding, "Whether in public or inside a private facility, all Angelenos deserve freedom to coexist in harmony. "
Bianchi, who works as a health educator and case manager, said that this type of discrimination and abuse was common and that people were paying attention because they formed a group of activists and workers. non-profit organizations with a platform.
"We deserve the same respect and the same treatment as everyone else," she said. "We fought for our rights to be free for decades."
Bianchi said that she was still struggling to deal with what had happened. "I have to get up and put on makeup and just be strong … but I felt like I was still shocked and still incredulous. I am emotional "
She added that it was difficult for some of them to talk about what had happened: "It was humiliating for all of us".