Days after an ugly incident where a Black patron was dragged down the stairs of Nellie’s, demonstrators supporting a boycott of the venerable U Street gay sports bar are planning a Friday night “block party” on the street outside. Hosted by organizers from the social-justice advocacy group Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, the Ward 1 Mutual Aid organization, and the Black-led anti-racist group the Palm Collective, the block party will start at 7 PM in front of the bar.
Though the current protests were spurred by the Pride weekend incident involving 22-year-old Keisha Young, organizers allege the landmark bar has a history of discriminating against Black patrons. “This boycott comes after a long history of anti-Blackness by Nellies, as revealed by former Black workers, patrons, community advocates, viral videos, and displayed by Nellies blatantly antagonistic responses to calls for accountability,” an Instagram caption for the block party reads. “They have flown the blue lives matter/police flag in the face of murders by police proving that they do not respect or protect the Black queer and trans community.”
“Our investigation into the matter is ongoing, and we will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation, however we do not need to wait for the investigation’s conclusion before we take decisive action,” a representative from Nellie’s wrote in a statement to Washington City Paper. We offer a heartfelt apology to all who witnessed the horrific events of this past weekend. No matter what behavior occurred prior, nothing warrants mistreating, and disrespecting, one of our guests….We will use this time to listen and understand what more we can do to create the safe and friendly atmosphere our guests have come to expect from Nellie’s Sports Bar over the past 14 years.”
The protests have highlighted some racial division within the LGBTQ community. Nellie’s has terminated the security guard involved in the incident, and is closed for the next week to figure with its employees what changes need to be made. Young’s family is considering filing a police report and a civil claim against the bar.