News & Politics

The Viral Nellie’s Sports Bar Incident Has Been Referred to the DC Attorney General

The U Street bar is now at risk of losing its liquor license.

Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan on Flickr.

Protesters have descended on Nellie’s Sports Bar every week since video of its security dragging a Black woman down the stairs went viral last month. Now the matter is in the hands of the DC Attorney General, who will decide whether to pursue charges against the popular U Street gay bar.

The case’s referral to the AG follows an investigation conducted by DC’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Using police reports, surveillance footage, and staff interviews, the investigation found that “multiple assaults occurred inside of the establishment while the licensee was engaged in a method of operation conducive to unlawful conduct.”

The alleged assaults were committed by both bar patrons and security. The report describes use of mace and physical violence by patrons, and physical violence by security, including dragging 22-year-old Keisha Young down the stairs.

DC Attorney General Karl Racine will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with the case. If the case does move forward, there will be a hearing, which could result in a fine or revocation of the bar’s liquor license.

A written statement from Nellie’s says the bar fully cooperated with the ABRA investigation, and stresses that Nellie’s immediately notified police as the incident was happening on June 13. The statement also underscores the investigation’s finding that Nellie’s staff was assaulted after they asked a customer “who was openly drinking a bottle of liquor” brought in from outside to leave.

“We don’t condone what followed and we terminated the security company responsible, closed the establishment for a period to further investigate and move forward with additional training and a new security company,” the statement from Nellie’s reads. “We will continue to work to identify and address all factors which may have given rise to this incident so that Nellie’s will be a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all. We plan to meet privately with several groups who have expressed concern about our operation so we might best understand all of the issues involved.”

Since June 13, there have been weekly protests outside Nellie’s. The protestors’ list of demands includes calling for Nellie’s owner Douglas Schantz to issue a public apology to Young.

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