“I deserve to feel safe while going out.”

Location: Black Cat (14th and U Street NW DC)
Time: Late Night (12am-5am)

On Friday night, I went to the Black Cat for Lady Parts Justice’s Pro-choice Prom – the kind of amazing, progressive fundraising event that Black Cat is known to graciously host. That’s why what happened after the event, when my friends and I headed to the downstairs bar of the Black Cat, was so surprising. My friend and I were sitting at the bar when a group of men approached us.

One of the men started talking to us, but when I made it clear that I definitely wasn’t interested in him or his awful Richard Spencer haircut, he got more physically aggressive. He touched me and roughly grabbed my shoulder, and when I told him to get off of me, he turned to my friend and put his hand on her upper thigh. I pulled his hand off of my friend, which angered him. I told him that it’s not respectful to touch women you don’t know without their consent – he responded by pretending to apologize while forcefully grabbing my shoulder again.  The group surrounded me and my friends.  One of the men pulled up his hoodie and stood inches from me, trying to physically intimidate me.

At that point, I turned to the bartender and requested her assistance. I told her that I probably should have approached her sooner, but that this group of men was getting increasingly aggressive and we needed help. The bartender took it seriously at first, but then another member of the group came up to me, roughly grabbed my shoulder and pressed himself up against my back, and halfheartedly said, “Sorry.” I told the man to get away from me, but he wouldn’t. I looked to the bartender for help. She said something along the lines of that he was attempting to apologize, so there was nothing more she could do. As I recall, she also suggested that I was overreacting. Both she and the other bartender called the manager and refused to assist us any further.

Situations like this can be really confusing for a bartender – they really might not know how to handle it. All of the people involved in this incident had been drinking, including myself. However, my friend and I needed help, and these bartenders did not handle the situation appropriately. For the record, I was inebriated, but I feel like I was pretty calm and collected, and I definitely wasn’t overreacting (I think it’s pretty fair to not want a strange man wearing a smelly wrestling fanboy shirt touching you and breathing down your neck when you’re just trying to enjoy your Friday night).   

Unfortunately, the bartenders did not act appropriately in this situation. They allowed my friend and I to be harassed, and refused to remove the group from the bar. When the bar manager finally spoke with me, she agreed that the situation had not been handled appropriately and promised me that the group had been removed from the bar (they hadn’t) and the bar was being closed early. 

I’m calling out Black Cat for allowing this group of people to sexually harass and intimidate my friends and me. I deserve to feel safe while going out, and until this incident is addressed, I know that Black Cat, no matter how many progressive events they host, isn’t a safe place to be.

Submitted 7/11/17 by “JR”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

We Did It! #DoMore24 Wrap-Up

Wow! Thanks to amazing supporters like you, we were able to #RaisetheBar! Because you gave, because you drank with us at happy hour, because you tweeted and took selfies, because you shared our campaign, Collective Action for Safe Spaces raised more than $9,500 through our #DoMore24 campaign to launch the Safe Bar Collective!

Your support will provide CJ, Kiki, Cassandra, and Maria with access to safe and supportive employment in our partner bars and restaurants this summer!

But our work is not done yet — there’s still so much we have to do to make bars a safe space for ALL, and here’s how you can help:

  1. Donate to the Safe Bar Collective. Missed the campaign but still want to support trans folks of color in DC? Give here!
  2. Patron our Safe Bars. The full list of all our trained bars can be found here.
  3. Share the Safe Bar Collective with your networks. We need everyone on board to make bars a safe space for all, especially trans folks of color. Share our campaign on Twitter and Facebook today!

Also, we need people to testify in support of the Street Harassment Prevention Act on Wednesday, July 12th.

Introduced in February, the Street Harassment Prevention Act is one of the first of its kind to establish a comprehensive framework to address street harassment in our community through non-criminal solutions.

Now we need YOU to share your stories of harassment in the District to show the Council how important this act is to community safety. Sign up to testify or submit written testimony here, and we’ll be in contact with resources and support!

From all of us at CASS, thank you.

Let’s Make DC Nightlife Safer for *Everyone* This #DoMore24

Trans people face tremendous hurdles — like wage inequity, lack of legal protections, and implicit bias — when it comes to securing stable unemployment. In DC alone, 36% of trans men and women have faced unemployment during their lives. But for Black trans people, this statistic increases significantly to a staggering 55%.

Chronic unemployment stemming from literal and figurative discrimination leads to housing instability, lack of health insurance, and poverty — all things that no person should have to face in one of the wealthiest cities in America.

With feedback from our widely popular Safe Bar program, CASS is stepping up our commitment to making bars safer for *everyone* with the new Safe Bar Collective!

If you haven’t heard already, the Safe Bar Collective will provide four trans people of color with access to safe and supportive employment in our partner bars and restaurants. By providing job training, hygiene kits, and transportation stipends, we aim to support people like Cassandra (who started transitioning after she moved to DC) and CJ (who was fired when he asked for sick time) not only get a job, but with the resources they need to keep it.

“I moved to DC because I wanted to be in a city where I could succeed and be myself,” says Cassandra. “I knew I could be myself here.” Cassandra’s job in the Safe Bar Collective will be her first job since she transitioned. Let’s show Cassandra the support she needs and deserves.

Safe Bar Collective can make real impact on real people’s lives, but we can’t do it without you. Today is #DoMore24, our 24-hour giving challenge. We need to raise $13,000 to launch the Safe Bar Collective and we hope you can help us reach our goal. Here’s what you can do:

Donate $48 — today only, your donations will be matched, which makes your $48 automatically $96! With this funding, we can supply our pilot program participants CJ, Kiki, Maria, and Cassandra with the resources and training they need to succeed!

Take a selfie — Tweet a selfie of yourself with this sign and some Tweet that says why you’re supporting our #DoMore24 campaign. Don’t forget to use the #RaisetheBar and #DoMore24 hashtags to help CASS win bonus cash from United Way, the organizers of #DoMore24.

Spread the word — Follow our campaign on social media today and spread the word with your friends, coworkers, paramours, and anyone else you know! Need some ideas to make your own posts? Check out our social media toolkit.

Let’s show Cassandra and CJ they support they need and deserve — and make DC safer for *everyone.*

Local Breweries and Distilleries Stepping Up as Safe Bars

We are just two weeks away from our Safe Space Jam and we have a lot to celebrate this year! We’ve trained 27 Safe Bars, facilitated over 40 workshops, and launched a new program called Rethinking Masculinity. What a year!

Last week, we sat down with two awesome individuals who brought our Safe Bars program to their bars. The program trains and empowers staff at alcohol-serving establishments to recognize and respond to sexual harassment and assault.

Brandy Holder from New Columbia Distillers and Lizzie from DC Brau shared their experiences with the program with us—and why they think Safe Bars is a vital program for their communities.

Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS): How did you get involved with the Safe Bars program?

Brandy Holder (New Columbia Distillers): I thought it was important for our distillery to initiate the training and to become a safe bar. Personally, I have been an advocate of CASS for a few years, and when the distillery received the email a couple of years back to donate to its annual fundraiser, I was the person to set that into motion from the distillery’s standpoint. Since then, I have wanted to keep up-to-date with the organization and try to be a part of it in some way.

CASS: Why was it important for you and the staff at the distillery to take this course?

Lizzie Palumbo (DC Brau): I felt it was important for my team to receive this training because many of them haven’t worked in the service industry before and didn’t have experience in dealing with problematic customer behaviors.

BH: The drive for me wanting to establish New Columbia Distillers as a safe bar was to make Ivy City known as a safe space and to experience the training with not only our distillery crew, but the majority of Ivy City alcohol-makers. New Columbia Distillery has never had any incident of harassment, assault, or any unsafe behavior from any of our patrons and we have been very fortunate with this. Our limited hours and use of space in our distillery definitely works to our advantage for combating that. But personally, as a woman, I experience sexual harassment/catcalling daily and it is disgraceful and uncomfortable.

When I can see an opportunity to make men (and people in general) aware of how much it actually happens, I try to show them. This training was a great way to gather some of the men from not only our distillery, but the other businesses as well, and have everyone talk about it, raise awareness, and learn new ways to notice signs and take action when we see something happening.

Safe Bars training at DC Brau

 

CASS: Brandy, you were able to bring a few other companies together for the training as well. What was that experience like?

BH: I was happy to coordinate and bring together One Eight, Jos A. Magnus, Republic Restoratives, and Atlas BrewWorks together for this training. I find it an honor that our industry folks — the people who are making the booze that you drink and who run the establishments in which you imbibe and have fun — want nothing but the best for their patrons. And the best means safe, welcoming, and inclusive attitudes and businesses. 

CASS: What outcomes did you see as a result of the program?

BH: I am very fortunate to have wonderful co-workers and the knowledge that all the other distillery/brewery crew are on the same side and will all work together. As a mixed group, we were able to have a great discussion and share our experiences with each other. Some even admitted that stepping up to harassment was harder for them because they do not handle confrontation well, but the training gave us many different ways of handling it, which I think was helpful to everyone. We learned so different ways to intervene: take folks out of the situation without being obvious, and know when to take it to the next step. The training allowed folks to stop and think about it and bring awareness to situations to which they may have previously not given any more than just a fleeting thought. 

Ivy City safe bars training
Ivy City distilleries training

 

LP: The training was really useful in establishing what behavior is and isn’t acceptable. It also was a great way to get everyone on the same page as far as how to handle difficult situations that may arise.

Several members of my team have let me know that they have already successfully implemented strategies they learned in the training. I think we all felt empowered by the class. We strive to make DC Brau a safe and inclusive space for everyone who visits, and the Safe Bars training and certification really drives that point home. Being a certified safe bar is a big point of pride for everyone in our company.

Both New Columbia Distillery and DC Brau will be helping to stock the open bar at the Safe Space Jam, and New Columbia is providing a gift basket for the silent auction, too!

We’ll be awarding the BARstander of the Year award at our annual event. Vote for the Safe Bar you think is doing the most to cultivate a safe environment, and get your tickets today!

Editor’s Note: These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

“It did not feel like a safe space.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: H Street NE
Time: Night (7:30pm-12am)

My girlfriend and I were asked to leave Little Miss Whiskey’s by the owner for kissing in the bar last night. 

I’m not sure it was explicitly homophobic, but it was pretty uncomfortable to be told that we weren’t welcome and should “get a room, or do that where folks shouldn’t have to see.” We weren’t being overtly sexual and neither of us were super drunk or anything.

It did not feel like a safe space.

Submitted 3/19/17 by “Anonymous”

Do you have a personal experience with gender-based public sexual harassment or assault? Share your story to help raise awareness about the pervasiveness and harmful effects of street harassment. All submissions are posted anonymously unless otherwise specified.

If you experience or have experienced sexual harassment on the DC Metro system: Whether the event is happening at the moment or occurred months ago, we strongly encourage you to report to Metro Transit Police (MTP): www.wmata.com/harassment or 202-962-2121. Reporting helps identify suspects as well as commons trends in harassment. You can program MTP’s number into your phone so you can easily reach them when needed.

If you need assistance in coping with public sexual harassment or assault, please contact the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) 24/7 crisis hotline at 202-333-RAPE (202-333-7279).

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