D.C. Gay Bar Hit With Protests After Video Shows Black Woman Dragged Down Stairs

Staff at a Washington, D.C., gay bar say they’ve fired a security vendor after troubling footage that appeared to show a guard violently dragging a Black female patron down the stairs went viral online. 

Footage of the incident, which took place late Saturday and was posted to Twitter and Instagram shortly thereafter, shows 22-year-old Keisha Young being pulled down a staircase at Nellie’s Sports Bar by an unidentified guard.

Seconds later, a fight involving other patrons erupts at the foot of the staircase. 

Speaking to WUSA reporter John Henry on Sunday, Young said she “got mixed up in the altercation because I looked like somebody else,” and noted she’d lost her cell phone and glasses amid the ensuing chaos. 

“There was an altercation in there and they were trying to get some other people out because somebody else brought a bottle in there,” she said. “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.”

Young and her father were among those who took part in a group protest outside of Nellie’s Sports Bar on Sunday. According to numerous reports, a second demonstration took place near the purported home of the bar’s owner, Douglas Schantz. 

“We ask people to protest and boycott because the owner, which is a white man, doesn’t care about Black women,” one demonstrator said. “If he cared, he would come out here and be concerned about what security [has] done to a Black woman in his club.” 

Capital Pride Alliance, which organized the city’s LGBTQ Pride celebrations over the weekend, condemned the “reprehensible actions” seen in the video in a statement issued Sunday.  

“Pride weekend is a time for celebration and remembrance, and this incident is a reminder that we need to do a better job of protecting one another,” read the statement, which can be found in full here. “CPA is committed to creating safe spaces for all. We expect Nellie’s to take immediate, remedial action in response to this incident.” 

By Monday afternoon, Nellie’s Sports Bar announced on Instagram that the independent security vendor hired specifically for the city’s Pride celebration had been terminated. The bar itself, they added, would remain closed for the week while the investigation continued. 

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A post shared by Nellie’s Sports Bar (@nelliessportsbar)

“We offer a heartfelt apology to all who witnessed the horrific events of this past weekend,” they added. “No matter what behavior occurred prior, nothing warrants mistreating, and disrespecting, one of our guests. What we can say is we have heard the concerns of the BIPOC and LGBTQ communities.”

Young’s family members told Washington City Paper they plan to pursue a civil claim against the bar. 

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