Friday, November 28, 2014

Transgendered person alleges assault in popular DC club-restaurant when it wasn't yet supposed to be open, on Thanksgiving Day

A transgendered woman reports being assaulted in the lavatory of a popular restaurant at 17th and R Sts NW in Washington DC early Thanksgiving evening.  The establishment is called “Level One”, and it constitutes the first level of the Cobalt 30 Degrees and disco above.  One enters the bar through the first floor, most of which is the restaurant.  I have often eaten there.  The Level One is accessed through the Cobalt website here
The news story appeared on NBC Washington, Channel 4, Friday, link here.  It is critical to note that management says that the time of the reported attack (before 7 PM Thanksgiving Day) occurred before the restaurant was open, which was later than usual because of the holiday.  Few employees were present.  As a matter of logic (however bizarre and unlikely), it would sound conceivable that someone could have broken in before the club was open.  It isn’t clear from the news story if the victim, as self-reported to police, should have been on the premises herself at the time. It's logical to question whether the alleged attack even occurred at all, at this point. Likewise, ask if the victim could somehow have named the wrong place.  
The story also appeared on WJLA7 this evening.  There is no story on WJLA's website yet (WJLA did not mention the name of the establishment, but NBC4 did) and I don’t see it on the Washington Blade as of midnight Friday. Nor do I see it on the Metro Weekly. It was not reported earlier on NBC4 today, as I watched most of it during dinner.
Cobalt is defending class-action litigation regarding employee compensation and tips, best explained in a Washington Blade article by Lou Chibbaro, Jr. Sept. 10, 2014, here

The “gay bar business” has always been “risky”, but over many decades one of the most enterprising was Frank Caven in Dallas, who has owned clubs all over the country, as explained in the Dallas Voice, here  He owned JR’s and the Village Station when I lived in Dallas in the 80s.  The Village Station eventually became the Station 4, one of the largest gay discos in the country in floor space.

Any incident in a bar is very serious for the business, because, as for example, in Washington DC that usually results in 96-hour closure and often loss of liquor license, with a fight to reclaim it.  Loss of license has occurred because of incidents very near a property when caused by customers and not management.  It may occur without just cause.  It is less clear what happens if it results from an intruder when the place is not supposed to be open. 

The Blade will surely have more details soon.
I’ve seen “incidents” in bars only twice, once in Wailuku, Hawaii in 1980, and in London, England in 1982.  After fights started, I simply left quickly.  Fights are much more common “proportionally” in straight bars (like in the short film “Last Shot”, in DC Shorts, mentioned here on the movies blog Sept. 14). 

Update: Dec. 6

The Washington Blade, on Dec 5 , page 6, has a story by Lou Chibbaro Jr., "Assault of trans woman didn't happen at Cobalt: source", link here

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