A viral video showing a Black woman being pulled by her hair down a flight of stairs inside of Nellie’s Sports Bar in Washington, D.C., prompted a large crowd of demonstrators on Sunday night.
In the video, members of Nellie’s security team can be seen aggressively dragging the woman by her long blond braids inside of Nellie’s, an LGBTQ+ establishment in the U-Street area of D.C.
According to several eyewitnesses, a Black woman was approached inside of the bar on Saturday during a Pride celebration after security accused her of sneaking liquor in from outside. The woman, who was ID’d by her first name, Keisha, reportedly spoke with organizer Nee Nee Tay, who said she was rightfully traumatized from Saturday’s events.
The woman claims she was falsely identified and was aggressively removed from the venue after she told security she was not the culprit. After refusing to leave, security pulled her from the venue. A second, longer video shows two men jumping in to help as she is being pulled down the stairs.
Tay told justice reporter Chuck Modi that the men in the video were family members who were attempting to protect her. Tay said she returned to the venue to retrieve Keisha’s phone and glasses.
Tay, founder of social justice organization Harriet’s Wildest Dreams also discussed growing concerns around the owner of Nellie’s who has been previously accused of anti-Blackness and racism at the venue.
A GoFundMe has been launched to help with Keisha’s legal and medical fees.
According to NBC Washington, protesters marched from the venue to the owner’s home nearby on Sunday evening.
Preston Mitchum, the Director of Policy at URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, echoed Tay’s concerns and called for more supporters to speak out against Nellie’s. Mitchum voiced that previous actions have been taken to heighten awareness around Nellie’s ownership, but little progress has been made.
As the night wore on, the police heightened their presence in the area as protesters yelled chants of “Justice!” and “Shut it down!”
The incident takes place during Pride month, where fallen LGBTQ+ persons are honored, as well as holding space for the contributions of community members. Pride began as a violent confrontation on June 28, 1969, between police and Black LGBTQ+ members outside of the Stonewall Inn in New York City. Unfortunately, remnants of that same violence against LGBTQ+ community members are still being exercised today.
“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 woman,” Mitchum tweeted.
Nellie’s has since released a Facebook statement condoning violence and confirming that an investigation into the matter is underway.
“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 statement reads.
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