LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Several transgender women said they were aggressively and forcibly removed from a downtown Los Angeles bar-restaurant Friday evening — after they were attacked by a straight couple.
The transgender group, along with several gay men, said they were grabbed and made to leave the bar Las Perlas.
Cellphone video of the incident shows Jennifer Bianchi, one of the women, repeatedly saying, “Don’t touch me like that.”
A friend of hers is shown being pulled off a chair and carried out the door.
“I think it was really wrong and humiliating,” Bianchi says, “Hurtful.”
The group at the bar was comprised of staff and volunteers from a local nonprofit, Bienestar Human Services who were there to support DTLA Proud, an annual two-day festival held in Pershing Square that celebrates the LGBTQ community.
Outside Las Perlas Saturday evening dozens from the LGBTQ community protested outside the bar. The demonstrators chanted “Trans lives matter.”
The trans women spoke to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Jeff Nguyen about their ordeal.
The gay group said on a Facebook post, that while they were at Las Perlas, they were approached by a straight couple who began to aggressively and purposely call them “men” and shout other trans-phobic slurs.
“We were attacked by a couple who was very trans-phobic,” says Khloe Rios, “one of my co-workers was actually slapped in the face.”
The gay group said they tried to de-escalate the situation which only seemed to anger the straight couple more. The gay group quoted the straight couple as saying “we will come back and kill you.” They also threatened to come back and “shoot” the women, they told Nguyen.
The straight couple was reportedly asked to leave the premises. The trans women said they were were approached by bar security and physically removed.
A hate incident report was filed.
This evening, Las Perlas closed its doors about a half hour before the protest began.
Las Perlas declined an on-camera interview but posted a statement on Instagram that read, in part: “Our manager on duty asked both groups to leave as the safety and security of our patrons and employees is our top priority and we have zero tolerance for this type of behavior in our establishments. The guards removed the guests that were not compliant…”
The transgender women told Nguyen the straight couple — the aggressors — were treated with kindness and asked to leave politely.
“And I think that’s the main issue,” says Rios. “Why are you treating people differently because of their gender identity?”
Meanwhile, the LAPD says they are looking into Friday’s incident at the bar. Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala wrote, “LAPD is investigating the incident at Las Perlas in DTLA. Please know that the department is committed to ensuring the safety of every Angeleno.”
Earlier in the day, Las Perlas said they were also going to donate proceeds from this weekend to Bienestar but that was also posted before the restaurant decided to close early this evening.