Las Perlas bar in downtown Los Angeles.
Credit: Las Perlas

City Attorney Files Charges Following Alleged Hate Incident

Last updated:

Today, City Attorney Mike Feuer announced his office filed two criminal charges against Eduardo Gonzalez, a 28-year-old Huntington Park man, who threatened a group of transgender women and gay men at a downtown L.A. bar in 2019.

“Acts of hate against transgender people have no place in our society,” Feuer said in a statement. “Transgender people, especially transgender people of color, already face an unconscionable risk of violence. Perpetrators need to be held accountable.”

The incident occurred at mezcal bar Las Perlas in August 2019. Khloe Perez-Rios told the Los Angeles Blade that she and seven other employees and volunteers with Bienestar, a community-based social services organization that works with Latino and LGBTQ populations, had attended the DTLA Proud festival at nearby Pershing Square. Afterward, at about 9 p.m., they went to Las Perlas for food and drinks.

Gonzalez and his girlfriend were seated at a nearby table. Perez-Rios told Buzzfeed News that the couple was “very drunk” and that Gonzalez made several transphobic and homophobic comments, including “you are all dudes.” At one point, he threatened to come back with a gun.

As things became heated, Las Perlas’ security removed both parties, but Perez-Rios said they removed her group with force. She recorded that part of the incident on her phone and posted it to Facebook. In the video, one woman is seen being forced out of the bar as she tells the guard, “Don’t touch me like that.” Another woman asks, “What happened?” as a bouncer grabs her and drags her out of the bar. Perez-Rios said her group was left outside with the couple who harassed them, who then left when they heard police sirens approaching.

The video circulated widely on social media. Advocates organized a protest outside of Las Perlas, while Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted that his office would work with the LAPD on an investigation.

Las Perlas is one of several bars under the Pouring with Heart umbrella. Pouring with Heart’s Cedd Moses initially issued a statement saying, “The guards removed the guests that were not compliant with the manager’s request to leave and did so in accordance with company policy. This was a rare and unfortunate incident as Las Perlas has provided an inclusive and welcoming environment since it opened almost 10 years ago.”

According to USA Today, Moses also said profits made that weekend would be donated to Bienestar. Moses’ post is no longer available.

Las Perlas later shared on Facebook that it would hire a new security company that had received sensitivity training. Las Perlas is currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gonzalez is charged with one count of making a criminal threat and one count alleging that the criminal threat constituted a hate crime. His arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 7.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, transgender and gender non-conforming people in the U.S. often face violence, especially Black transgender women. Twenty-seven trans or gender non-conforming people died due to violence in 2019. This year, 22 transgender or gender non-conforming people have been killed so far. HRC notes that number may even be higher, as many incidents go unreported.

Los Angeleno