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After Trans Women Are Dragged out of a Bar in DTLA, a Community Rises to Action

Los Angeles, CA – Aug. 24: Khloe Rios and Jennifer Bianchi stand with their peers while speaking to LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening where Khloe, Jennifer and their peers were forcibly removed from the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

[dropcap size=big]J[/dropcap]ust three blocks away from the opening celebrations of DTLA Proud Festival Friday night, a group of trans women and queer women were aggressively and forcibly removed from Las Perlas, the pioneering mezcal bar in downtown’s Historic Core. A video of the incident shows what appears to be a Las Perlas security guard lifting and dragging a woman across the establishment. The tweet and video have gone viral and have prompted a boycott against Las Perlas, which was closed over the weekend but will be opening for business again tonight.  

Khloe Perez-Rios was with her coworkers at the downtown bar when the event took place. She began to record the ensuing altercation as soon as the situation escalated. Her video footage shows approximately four security guards dragging or removing her cohorts using physical force.


"I was the last person to be thrown out with excessive [force] out of Las Perlas and therefore I was the one able to capture everything on video and I’m glad I did because it really shows the lack of sensitivity toward the transgender community," Perez-Rios told L.A. Taco.

Jorge Diaz is embraced as he prepares to speak to a group of LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar. Jorge and his peers were forcibly removed from the bar the previous evening. on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Jorge Diaz is embraced as he prepares to speak to a group of LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar. Jorge and his peers were forcibly removed from the bar the previous evening. on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

LGBTQ rights advocates rallied the following night to protest the incident. Amongst those in attendance were the victims, who led protestors in chants to shut down Las Perlas and urge passersby not to go inside.

“I think what happened here last night was a reminder that we still have to do this work. We can’t get comfortable that we have made so many strides,” said Jorge Diaz, who was amongst those who were removed from the bar. 

LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Los Angeles, CA - Aug. 24: LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

On Saturday, Cedd Moses––chief executive of Pouring With Heart, which owns Las Perlas—issued a statement in response to the “escalated verbal altercation” that “broke out among two groups of guests.” According to Moses, both groups were asked to leave but Las Perlas’ “guards removed the guests” after they were not compliant with the manager’s request to leave. He states that staff acted “in accordance with company policy.”

LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Los Angeles, CA - Aug. 24: LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

L.A. Taco reached out to an LAPD contact who would like to remain anonymous to check in on the legality of throwing someone out of a bar but he was not confident enough about the legality to be quoted.

The latest statement from Las Perlas’s online channels addresses the establishment’s next steps to ensure that it is a safe place for all communities. These steps include hiring a new security company for Las Perlas who will receive sensitivity training and “working with the community and researching the right partner to help us move forward in the most positive way possible including staff and vendor training.”

LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Los Angeles, CA - Aug. 24: LGBTQ rights advocates gather outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

The response on social media to their second statement was mixed. The majority of comments arguing it was “too late” for this kind of response but there was a handful who were receptive, including one comment on IG that racked up over 120 likes for commenting, “There’s always two sides to a story.”

In conjunction with Saturday’s protest, LGBTQ rights advocates and allies have organized online to seek more accountability from Pouring With Heart, including by sharing names of other establishments that are owned by the company. 

Khloe Rios speaks to a group of LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar. Khloe Rios and her peers were forcibly removed from the bar the previous evening. on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Los Angeles, CA - Aug. 24: Khloe Rios speaks to a group of LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening at the bar. Khloe Rios and her peers were forcibly removed from the bar the previous evening. on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

The victims of Friday’s incident are employed or volunteer at Bienestar, a local community-based health care, and social services organization focusing on the Latino and LGBTQ populations. Diaz urges the community to share Perez-Rios’s video, as it is a documentation of the physical ways that trans women are treated. 

Khloe Rios stands with her peers while speaking to LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening where Khloe and her peers were forcibly removed from the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)
Los Angeles, CA - Aug. 24: Khloe Rios stand with her peers while speaking to LGBTQ rights advocates gathered outside Las Perlas bar in Downtown L.A. to protest a transphobic incident the previous evening where Khloe and her peers were forcibly removed from the bar on August 24, 2019. (Brian Feinzimer)

“The point is that we must send the message that trans women should be treated with respect,” Diaz said at Saturday’s protest. “I think that’s why we are here, to send the message that they should be treated as women, with respect and none of us should have been handled the way they handled us.”

L.A. Taco will update this story as it develops. 

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