LAPD Investigating Incident at Downtown Bar as Hate Crime

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating as a possible hate crime an incident at a downtown bar in which a group of gay men and transgender women were forcibly removed after a straight couple allegedly yelled slurs at them and pushed and slapped one member of the group, it was reported today.

It happened Friday night at Las Perlas at 107 East Sixth St., police said.

Members of the group of coworkers said they were talking and eating tacos and quesadillas when a straight couple approached them and said: “You guys are all men. You guys don't belong here.” They said the man slapped and pushed one of the women after the women asked to be left alone.

The bar's security guards told both sides to leave but forcibly removed the transgender women from the bar, as depicted in cellphone video.

The bar is owned by Pouring With Heart, whose founder Cedd Moses issued a statement that defended the security guards.

“Last evening, an escalated verbal altercation broke out among two groups of guests at Las Perlas. 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,” he said in a statement reported by the Los Angeles Times. “The guards removed the guests that were not compliant with the manager's request to leave and did so in accordance with company policy.”

Moses added: “This was a rare and unfortunate incident as Las Perlas has provided an inclusive and welcoming environment since it opened almost 10 years ago. We will continue to value and celebrate the diversity of the downtown Los Angeles community we are so proud to be a part of.”

Jennifer Bianchi, one of the women forcibly removed from the bar, told the Times the man who had confronted the group threw a piece of metal at the door of the bar from the street and “said they would shoot us all and kill us because we were guys.”

Assistant Los Angeles Police Chief Beatrice Girmala responded to reports of the incident with a tweet.

“Whether in public, or inside of a private establishment, all Angelenos deserve the freedom to coexist in harmony,” she tweeted. “Although we cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, rest assured the LAPD will thoroughly investigate the incident at Las Perlas.”

“Please know that the Department is committed to ensuring the safety of every Angeleno, as well as the right of all to live their true lives in peace, harmony, and free from anxiety or fear.”

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