|A man on the ground is kicked and punched outside the Jackhammer complex early Sunday. | Teri Yaki|
A social media dust-up has a Far North Side gay bar playing defense over an apparent fight between customers early Sunday morning.
Jackhammer, the club at 6406 North Clark Street, is fending off online complaints that their staff and patrons were anti-trans and racist during the incident while other patrons have rushed to the club’s defense saying that people who acted violently needed to be removed regardless of their gender identities or any other factors.
CWBChicago reached out to three individuals, including one of the DJ’s who was working at the club on Sunday night to learn what they saw that led them to believe that individuals were unfairly treated by the club due to gender identities, race, or other factors. None offered any details.
Here is what we were able to learn:
Chicago police were called to Jackhammer at 4:24 a.m. Sunday for a report of several people fighting in front of the bar.
Teri Yaki, a Chicago drag performer, captured video showing patrons leaving the bar and then fighting on the sidewalk. Police are called, and a doorman can be heard turning away new customers: “We’re done. Absolutely done.” Exiting patrons are told to use a secondary door to avoid the fight.
Police arrived and 22-year-old Itsi Mayra Tovar, a transgender woman, was taken into custody after a 50-year-old patron of the bar signed a complaint that she “struck him on the top of the head with a closed fist, causing pain and a small bump,” according to a CPD spokesperson.
While Tovar was being taken into custody, 21-year-old Shelby Lynn Morris, who later identified herself to police as transgender, interfered with the arrest and grabbed a police sergeant’s arm, the CPD spokesperson said. Morris was arrested and charged with battery and resisting or obstructing police.
A police unit remained outside of Jackhammer to maintain the peace until the bar was emptied out at its usual 5 a.m. closing time, according to dispatch records.
Within hours, allegations of anti-trans and racist behavior by club personnel began making the rounds online:
Ariel Zetina was billed as one of the DJs working the club that night. Zetina tweeted:
“Wish i wasnt still so shook by what happened at jackhammer; also thing i havent said; so wild they made me stop my set; purely racist and transphobic and assuming im some ringleader to bring jackhammer down.”
“a fights a fight- like if it were two white dudes fighting would this have blown up? just cos black and brown queer and trans people were a part means that all must be taken down in the club; no worries cos my friends and i will never set foot in jackhammer again”
On Sunday, Zetina solicited for donations to her Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App “for my two friends who were arrested. I know I personally would absolutely need a recovery period after having to be processed through the system and they both deserve some freedom from financial stress.”
By Monday evening, Zetina wrote that she raised enough money “to donate a recovery fund to both people, and also a bit to the queer people who were involved in the very long processing at the precinct.”
Chicago Police Department records show that Morris was released from custody at 9:15 a.m. on Sunday, less than five hours after being taken into custody. Tovar was released an hour later, police said.
CWBChicago contacted Zetina this afternoon to get a first-hand account of what transpired inside the bar and to discuss her fundraising. She blocked us immediately and then posted, “FULLY DONE TALKING TO ANYONE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED- IVE SAID EVERYTHING IVE NEEDED TO SAY – I AM ONLY INTERESTED IN MOVING FORWARD.”
Twitter user @woke4clout who posted from Jackhammer early Sunday wrote,
“the f*cking masc4masc white gays at jackhammer got a trans woman of color arrested last night and I’m so f*cking p*ssed f*ck these racist pieces of sh*t.”
Woke4clout also blocked us when we engaged them in a discussion about what happened.
The most significant reaction on Twitter was to a post late Sunday by @pogform:
“incredibly upset to hear that two trans people of color were arrested at the jackhammer last night. chicago’s gay community needs to get their f*cking sh*t together and stop calling the police on trans people and people of color.”
We contacted @pogform Tuesday evening to see if they witnessed what happened at the bar or if they could put us in touch with anyone who did. We’re still waiting for a response.
But Teri Yaki, the drag queen who filmed the fight video, has had no reservations about telling people what she says she saw first-hand.
“I saw it from start to finish,” she wrote on Facebook. “Unfortunately we didn’t start filming till they finally got removed.” She continued:
Those people who are screaming “racist” were hitting the staff and threatening customers screaming and causing [an] all out melee.
The staff at Jackhammer handled the situation with as much professionalism as they could considering the violence being directed at them. None of them disrespected any of the members of that group. They were simply looking out for the safety of the rest of the patrons once fighting broke out. The group was asked to leave and when they didn’t more violence began….and not from the staff.
The fact that they were removed had absolutely nothing to do with what gender they identified with or the color of their skin. My partner’s thumb is broken from being thrown to the floor and as I was trying to break up a fight was punched in the head. It’s easy to jump on some bandwagon of “justice” when you don’t know the facts. Beware of individuals who trigger you with words like “racist” or “transphobic” in order to excuse their horrible behavior.
This jumping to conclusions and social media mob like behavior is tearing our community apart. People need to accept responsibility for their actions regardless of gender or race. Bad behavior is bad behavior. Place the blame where it belongs.
And before you blindly believe individuals who thrive on this type of drama and spread untruths on social media to draw attention to themselves, make sure you get the whole story. Those types of people are not to be trusted.
Sunday evening, Jackhammer ownership addressed the previous night’s issues via Facebook:
As the owners of Jackhammer since last Fall, we are steadfast in our desire to make sure Jackhammer is absolutely an inclusive safe space for all. We know much work needs to be done to do so. We are committed to doing what needs to be done so that incidents like last night do not happen, and when issues arise within the bar they are de-escalated as rapidly and respectfully as possible.
We are still gathering information about all that happened last night. We do want to make clear that at no point did Jackhammer ask the police to press charges against anyone, nor did we ever consider that. We are not aware of who made any allegations against the individuals who were arrested or what the reason was for the arrests. Other than to take photos of our business licenses, which is standard protocol, the police did not enter the bar or interview any of our staff.
Even before the events of last night we had begun a review of all policies and procedures regarding safety and security in the bar. We are also reviewing programming, events and customer support to improve our inclusiveness and responsiveness to situations. We are fully committed to redoubling those efforts.
Finally, we have reached out to several people in the community who have agreed to work with us through this process as we work together to make Jackhammer a place that is truly safe and welcoming to everyone in our community.
A representative of Jackhammer declined further comment for this report.
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