Former mayor and current D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) says he was injured Saturday night when a bouncer at the D.C. Eagle gay bar and nightclub pushed him out the door, causing him lose his balance and fall to the ground, according to Gray’s chief of staff Sheila Bunn.
Bunn told the Washington Blade on Monday that Gray attempted to enter the Eagle on Benning Road, N.E. to attend one of three city sponsored All Night Art events hosted by the Eagle and two other venues in Ward 7.
Bunn said that when Gray arrived at the Eagle about 9:30 p.m. an employee who requested to see his identification refused to accept Gray’s D.C. Council ID and said he had to show an ID with his date of birth on it.
“And the Councilman simply asked, might I ask why? I just showed you my government issued Council ID,” Bunn recounted Gray as saying. Bunn said that when the employee balked at accepting Gray’s Council ID Gray asked to speak with one of the owners with whom she said Gray visited a few weeks earlier and to whom Gray expressed his support for the Eagle.
“The bouncer was like, ‘oh you can’t talk to him now’ and proceeded to come from behind his station and put his hands on the Council member and pushed him out the door,” Bunn told the Blade.
“The Council member wasn’t unruly. He wasn’t belligerent. He wasn’t even upset,” Bunn said. “He asked a simple question and was pushed out the door,” she said, adding, “Clearly that man is well above the drinking age if that was the bouncer’s issue.” Gray is 75.
Bunn said that Gray had his driver’s license with him and would have been willing to show it to the bouncer, but it never got to that point because the bouncer pushed Gray out the door before he had a chance to take out his driver’s license.
She said Gray’s fall to the ground caused Gray to sustain an injury to his back and bruises on both of his hands. She said Gray immediately called police after getting up from the pavement and talked to officers that arrived on the scene. She said he then went to the Sixth District D.C. police station to provide additional details of what happened.
A spokesperson for the Eagle couldn’t immediately be reached by the Washington Blade on Sunday night and Monday by phone and by email. Fox 5 News and NBC News 4 reported the Eagle released a brief statement to them on Sunday by email.
“Council member Gray did attempt to enter the DC Eagle last night, but refused to provide proper identification to our door staff after being asked for it several times, as required by DC law,” the statement says. “He asked to see an owner and was told he would have to wait outside,” the two-sentence statement says.
The statement makes no mention of whether or not an Eagle employee pushed Gray out of the door as Gray has asserted.
A police report obtained by the Blade classifies the incident as a simple assault. It identifies the bouncer by name and includes his address but makes no mention of an arrest. D.C. police spokesperson Karimah Bilal told the Blade no arrest was made but said “the allegations in this case are currently under investigation.”
Gray has been a longtime outspoken supporter of LGBT rights and has pushed through LGBT supportive legislation during his tenure as mayor and while a member of the D.C. Council.
Bunn said she and Gray were surprised when they saw the statement about the incident released by the Eagle.
“As you may know, the Councilman said one of the owners came out and profusely apologized and said he was aghast and appalled at what happened and that he was going to fire the bouncer,” Bunn said. “And now I see the press reports that the D.C. Eagle issued a statement saying he refused to show proper ID, which is so untrue – so untrue.”
A spokesperson for the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration known as ABRA said the agency was preparing a statement to clarify what type of identification, if any, the law requires customers to show to be admitted to establishments that serve alcoholic beverages in response to inquiries about the D.C. Eagle incident.