Outrage and calls for a boycott of a Washington D.C. sports bar have ensued after video footage of a young Black woman being dragged down the establishment’s steps has gone viral.
According to Newsweek, 22-year-old Keisha Young was dragged down a flight of stairs inside popular gay establishment, Nellie’s Sports Bar, by a security guard who reportedly believed the woman had brought a bottle of alcohol into the venue on Saturday (June 12).
Video of the incident was taken by a bystander at the bar and shared to Instagram on Monday by Young’s mother.
"I DO NOT PLAY WHEN IT COMES TO MY DAUGHTER YO!!" Tammy Young captioned the 54-second clip. "YOU SEE HOW YOUR SECURITY GUARDS DRAGGING MY DAUGHTER DOWN THE F***N STEPS AND YES MY NIECE AND NEPHEWS JUMPED IN TO SAVE HER YOU WILL BE HEARING FROM MY LAWYER."
Tammy Young told Newsweek she and the family have consulted with a D.C.-based attorney.
Keisha Young, a student at Morgan State University, has set up a GoFundMe account and says in the page’s description that some of her personal property was lost during the incident.
"I lost my glasses, iPhone, shoes and my clothing were ripped off. My body aches and I am bruised up," she wrote on the page, which is set up to help with legal expenses and medical bills. "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."
Young said she went to the bar to celebrate Pride month festivities and was “dragged by the security guards for no reason.”
After the video went viral, a crowd gathered outside the bar while hashtags like #BoycottNellies and #NoPrideForNellies trended on social media.
NeeNee Tay, a protest organizer, said Young was targeted by security in a case of mistaken identity.
"A security guard took it upon himself to take Keisha by her hair and drag her down the steps and throw her out of the club," Tay said in a video filmed outside the bar.
Young said the incident escalated after there was an “altercation” unrelated to her.
"They were trying to get some other people out because somebody else brought a bottle in there,” she told Complex. “Somehow I got mixed up in an altercation because I look like somebody else and I got hit and dragged down the steps.”
Nellie’s Sports Bar has since reacted to the incident and fallout in a statement posted to Facebook.
"We were incredibly upset and disturbed to see the unfortunate event that took place at Nellie's last night," the venue said. "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."
Attorney, activist and co chair of the board of directors for Collective Action for Safe Spaces, Preston Mitchum, explained to BET that as distressing as this incident is, unfortunately it’s not one that should be viewed as just a singular event at Nellie’s. Mitchum alleges there’s been a long history of disparate and unfair treatment of Black patrons at the bar. He said, “Whenever there was a fight at the bar between Black gay men, Nellie’s would escalate. And not only would they sometimes not even break up the fights because they're not qualified to do so, when they do break up the fighting, what they would do is immediately call the cops and kick people out. When there were fights between white patrons or when white papers would be harassing black queer men,suddenly they had all the tools in a toolbox to figure out deescalation.”
Mitchum says that since at least 2016, he’s been part of an effort to help Nellie’s better serve its Black LGBTQ+ patrons, often to no effect. “We saw multiple times, white women were fighting, and they would just break it up. And that's it. So when many of us started to observe some of this disparate treatment, we called attention to this on social media. We met with the owner, Doug Schantz, and management at least, to be honest, have them laugh in our faces. They told us that fights are happening because of “hip hop culture and rap music.” Mitchum says the establishment added surcharges to Hennesy because that’s what they claimed was the cause of Black patrons’ poor behavior. Mitchum continued, “This is part and parcel an issue of Nellie’s just not caring about Black people but only about Black dollars. And so again, if we look at this as just a one time moment- it is an unfortunate moment. But it's a disconcerting moment that is disheartening, it's sexist, it is racist. And this is not the only time that Black people in particular have experienced violence, physical, emotional or mental.”