Three transgender women and a gay man who were seen on video being ejected from a downtown bar/restaurant after being subjected to what they called hate-based threats and insults by two other patrons demanded a public apology Monday.
Fernanda Celarie, Jennifer Bianchi, Khloe Perez-Rios and Jorge Diaz spoke at a news conference with attorney Lisa Bloom, saying they should not have been thrown out of Las Perlas, where they went on Aug. 23 after attending a downtown DTLA Proud Festival.
According to the group, once they were seated in the restaurant, they were accosted by a straight couple who hurled insults at them and then got more aggressive, slapping and pushing one of the women.
"When we tried to intervene to prevent injury to Fernanda, the transphobic couple only became more violent," Perez-Rios said. "The female aggressor threw punches at me. The couple then threatened our lives by saying 'I'm going to come back and kill you all.'"
Security guards intervened and the straight couple were allowed to leave, but the guards forcibly removed the group from the establishment, despite their protests. Their physical removal from the bar was caught on cell phone video that was widely circulated online.
"I asked management numerous times to call 911 but they failed to do so," Diaz said. "I asked them numerous times not to remove us from their establishment, but they failed to listen."
Bianchi noted that the guards forcibly threw them out of the restaurant onto the same street where the couple who had just threatened to kill them "was waiting."
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"This horrifying experience was humiliating, physically damaging and emotionally traumatizing," Bianchi said.
Cedd Moses, the founder of restaurant owner Pouring With Heart, initially said security guards had acted appropriately and "in accordance with company policy" by asking all parties to the confrontation to leave the establishment. The company later posted a statement online saying it was hiring a new security company "that has received sensitivity training."
"Our first and primary concern...is to operate a safe place for all people. Period, no exceptions," according to the late-August statement from the restaurant. "We regret that didn't happen (Aug. 23), 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...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."
The Los Angeles Police Department opened a hate-crime investigation into the confrontation, but the straight couple involved in the scrape has yet to be identified.