Reader Alleges Howard Theatre Security responds to claim of attack with “We’re closing in 30 minutes anyway, what’s the difference?”

620 T Street, NW

“Dear PoPville,

I attended a party the night of Friday, October 17, 2014 at Howard Theatre. While walking up the stairs at the venue, I was approached by a man in the stairwell who I did not know and who would not leave me alone, when I turned around to walk away from him, he grabbed my butt. I hit him away from me and he pushed me twice, causing to to grab the railing to keep from falling down the stairs, and causing my cell phone to fly out of my hands. When I pointed him out to security, I was told by different security guards, “We’re closing in 30 minutes anyway, what’s the difference?” “He’s a street n____, and street n____s kill bitches for causing scenes like this.” and “Technically you were attacking him since you followed him out of the stairwell.” Not only did security fail to help me, but they blamed me for this attack.

I filed a police report with a DC Sex Crimes detective that night, and emailed a letter to Howard Theatre on Sunday the 19th (to which I received no response.)

This is a venue that hosts many concerts and events. The specific party is part of a celebration for Howard University’s homecoming and is attended by many college age women. I would like to know that they are going to do something to ensure that women are not accosted and that security is not negligent at future events.”

Update: A petition has been created here.

65 Comment

  • That is awful!

    I would write directly to the ownership company. Last time I heard, they are a New York company. I’m sure they’d be unhappy to hear that staff and management at the Howard Theatre are being negligent in securing their venue and by that they are creating potential liability.

  • Most of the bouncers in DC are thugs themselves. They are probably buddies.

  • The whole renovation of this place was royally F’d and, IMO, has ruined the venue permanently. I think they screwed up every aspect imaginable. And this starts with the staff, unfortunately. Negligent. Uninterested. Careless. Lazy. You name it. It baffles me that such a historic landmark is being management by such incompetence who clearly have no idea how to run such a venue. Does no one else get an incredibly weird vibe in this place? I hate it.

    • “Negligent. Uninterested. Careless. Lazy”

      Screwed up? This sounds exactly like a good majority of DC. Consistent is more like it!

    • Negligent, uninterested, careless, and lazy are actually compliments for the staff at the Howard – service was comically bad the last time I was there. Fortunately I didn’t have to deal with security, I’m sorry the OP did and that they were actively offensive rather than just not present like the rest of the staff.

      • “actively offensive”! thank you for that phrase. It describes the tipping point for me. Unfortunately, you kinda get used to people being lazy, ignorant, half azz, etc but when you’re ACTIVELY OFFENSIVE, you’ve gone too far.

  • Smilla

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. Those security guards should be fired. Please let us know if you ever hear from the theater.

  • That’s horrible. I hate that they are trying to make it seem like you asked for it. Thug mentality- never taking responsibility for your actions, it’s always someone else’s fault. Howard Theater and what ever security company they use can actually be sued for stuff like this kind of stuff by being negligent in security.

  • Was this party affiliated with the university or alumni organization? I’d write to them if it was- they should know where their money is going if they are arranging parties like this. What a depressing post, though- the misogyny on display and utter complacence with/approval of criminal activity is outrageous and disheartening.

    • Even though they borrowed the name, the theatre has no connection or affiliation to Howard University. A lot of things in that area use the name Howard to draw students are clientele. And the entertainment group that hosted the party aren’t affiliated either. Many clubs and organizations use Howard Homecoming to throw lavish parties that weekend but they aren’t in any way linked to the university or its alumni groups.

      • This is also @ Jg3. I have always said Howard needs to do a better job of protecting the name, especially around homecoming, for monetary (licensing fees could generate income for the school) and reputational reasons, e.g. this slack bouncer’s behavior somehow gets assigned to Howard Homecoming.

        Jg3 (below) says ‘Don’t walk, bike, bus or drive 7th/GAAve/USTreet/Shaw/Chinatown, day or night. Don’t go into a place in these neighborhoods that serves alcohol or is sponsoring an event’ Maybe you should not assume what you find unpleasant is perceived the same way by others. At any event people should use good judgment. Avoiding the drunk and rowdy is always a good idea. Recommending people not walk in their own neighborhood seems odd. People live in these neighborhoods and have for many years and have managed fine during homecoming.

        • I’m not talking about things being unpleasant, I’m talking about things being considerably more dangerous than normal. There is a pervasive sense of impunity during these events, in the streets, and on the sidewalks, and what results are unpunished criminal actions against innocent people (including Alumnus). You can easily find first person accounts of my neighbors and Howard U students who have not ‘managed fine’. My neighbors made the same recommendations to me when I moved here, but it took me a couple years and close calls to realize that I too could be an innocent victim in an area that I consider safe and fabulous for 51 weeks a year.

  • This may sound a little heartless but…

    There is NOTHING that anyone can do to ensure that a woman isn’t accosted. Nothing.

    Secondly, I don’t really see the real sex crime here. This man shoving her several times is assault, which is totally not cool. Dudes touching girls’ booties has been going on for decades. I’m not saying it makes it right and the writer has every right to feel violated or whatever else she’s feeling about this. But you have to ask yourself, “is this what I want to hang my hat on?”. The bouncers may know something you don’t about this guy being a “street n—-“, and believe me you, the bouncers are right in the regard that women do get killed/hurt for much less than “causing a scene”(read the woman in Detroit who was killed for rejecting a man’s advances). And that’s just some good ole fashion “street sense”. Causing a scene with “those types” might escalate the situation well beyond the bouncers’ control. This is one of those instances were you have to make a snap risk assessment. In this instance, sadly, you may just have to take an L.

    • Smilla

      I can’t even begin to count all the wrong (and terrible) statements in this comment. “A little heartless”? You are a master of understatement.

    • Oh, please. Let’s just let this one go because he’s a “street n—-” and might kill you.

    • Yeah, everything you said applies to a lawless society where people run wild and are not held accountable for their actions. Back here in civilization, though, your suggestion to just let it ride is ludicrous. Your attitude is why inner cities struggle to maintain law and order. Too much excuse making (“well, this has always been this way, so deal,” “you might get killed if you speak up to injustice, so don’t speak up”). Touching someone’s rear end is assault. Nearly pushing someone down the stairs is assault. I wouldn’t care if these things have been happening 5000 years- it is assault, and she has the right to report it and get it addressed. Your attitude is not only reprehensible- it is part of the problem!

    • Please tell me you’re a troll. If I don’t want someone to touch my butt, there will be NO BUTT TOUCHING. That is an assault. Secondly, we have major societal issues when a woman is forced to accept a man’s advances or be killed. I have every right to turn you down, and I will do so politely, unless you won’t take no for an answer. I will either try to leave the situation or get someone’s attention in order to remain safe. It’s a bouncer’s job to make sure the patrons of an establishment stay safe – if they can’t, they need to pull in the police.
      Further, if something has been going on for decades and therefore it’s okay is how we don’t get women’s suffrage, or civil rights for minorities, or hell, even end slavery. If that’s your big point on why someone can touch my butt even when I don’t want them to, then you must have serious issues with everything that’s changed over the past 200 years.

    • Nobody should be harassed, and no one should have to just deal with it. And for the security to tell her to let it go, cause tthis guy would kill her? WTF? This street thug seems like he should be in jail, and not on the street.

      Grabbing someone’s ass is SEXUAL ASSAULT.

    • This is the type of attitude that I hate. Just because someone is from the street, we all have to bow down to them cause they might be dangerous. WTF? Everyone has a right to be safe. Also, it seems like to me those bouncers let this dude in the party with no problem at all. Are they all friends? That incident in Detroit is no excuse for the bouncers not to do their job.

    • Grabbing someone’s butt is sexual assault. How would you feel if someone grabbed your junk? “Nah, bro, that’s ok.”

    • What a pathetic response…

    • I definitely said that the fact men have been doing this for decades does not make it right. You can go back and read that again if you like. What I am describing here isn’t a lawless society but it also isn’t Pleasantville either. Yes, we have “Civil Rights for minorities” but that hasn’t stopped some people from still being racist or homophobic, has it? We ended slavery, but still had people committing acts of peonage for almost another century. Laws don’t regulate people’s behavior. Only people can control their own behavior. Not me, not you, not the bouncer at the Howard Theatre. My response was specifically addressing the writer’s seeming outrage at the response she received from the venue’s security and the remarks that were made by the bouncers. They certainly could’ve handled it with more kid gloves and called the police to allay her fear/concern. So yes, they were wrong in not doing so, though I wonder if she was entirely clear on the events that transpired. Perhaps they might’ve responded differently? On the other hand though, it takes a mix of emotional intelligence, street smarts, and keen awareness of your surroundings to know when shit is about to go down (or has the potential to). All it takes is something small like a shoe being stepped on, a drink being spilled, or big, like in this case, where an unwelcomed sexual advance was made. I’ve seen this happen waay too many times and I can tell you that time and time again, the best thing you can do for yourself is just leave. Clearly you are not dealing with a rational person if they’re pushing you b/c you’re not interested. It’s fucked up, it’s unfair but overall it’s a very unpleasant truth for the society that we live in.

      • Hi, I’m the OP’s sister. While I don’t want to take away from all the positive support in these comments to focus on the one negative, I just have a few points to make. What happened to my sister happens often in society–you are correct. But that’s where it stops for you. Women getting sexually assaulted then later blamed for said assault–yes, that’s exactly where we’d like to hang our hat. If security really did know more than my sister, and felt that the attacker was indeed a dangerous person, then they had a duty to remove him from the establishment (let’s not even go in to how unprofessional that “street n___” statement was. Or the fact that security basically just called my sister a bitch). If they were scared of the accused, they should have called the police. It’s not that security didn’t do enough, or that they fumbled, it’s that they did NOTHING. So we would like to let Howard Theatre know that they are paying for services they are not receiving, which puts their guests as risk. We would like to to hear how Howard Theatre plans to fix that problem and help ensure that textbook assault is not ignored and we’d like to know that their future security will receive proper training. It is absolutely your right to be apathetic, but the rest of us don’t have to be nor do we want to be. It brings me a weird cosmic peace to know that you and yours will benefit greatly from from people like my sister and those who support her.

    • Zamunda, the country from “Coming To America” is part of your username (LoyalCitizenofZamunda). I take it your status as a troll is a given.

      • I see this person post all of the time. Is she a troll or is her opnion different from yours? She sounds like someone who should expect more out of a situation than survival. Women have an absolute right not to have their body touched and businesses should protect their customers.

  • Thank you all for your support. I want to work to ensure that the venue takes this matter seriously. If you have time, can you please sign the petition?

  • You might have a civil claim against the theater and security company (?) too, if you want to go that route. The guards owe you a common law duty of care.

  • A friend of mine is a cop on the Howard Theater beat and has complained multiple times to the local ANC, city council. Turns out the city actually owns the theater, so it’s much harder to shut down. The management refuses to hire additional security, and police are called there at least twice a weekend because of incidents and there aren’t enough security to handle them. So instead of responding to calls in houses, etc., police respond to a club that should have security to handle fights outside and incidents like this.
    The city should be held accountable, because they are the ones that own it. This should be an issue in the city council as well.
    I would definitely write a letter to the councilperson who has jurisdiction and maybe also put out a call on Reddit and other neighborhood forums to find out if others have had similar situations.
    It’s a lovely venue and needs to be held accountable.

    • The District doesn’t own the Howard. You’re wrong about that. They own the Lincoln.

    • This is all false information the cops are not called to the theatre twice a week and the cop who works the Howard is barely here on a weekly basis. How do I know…been working here for 2 years

  • I Dont Get It

    The Howard Theater has a Facebook page and a Twitter account–you might want to give them some social media love.

    • Aglets

      I second this. Their twitter account is active and the security may have been hired by an outside company. Maybe it won’t give you any traction, but hopefully @howardtheatre will be helpful or at least a friendly in?

      I’m so sorry this happened to you- I hope that the “security” guards are dealt with and ideally fired.

  • I’m sorry this happened to you. do you know the company tht manages their security (if they contract it out)?

  • That’s awful and NOT the response you should have gotten. Howard Theater owes an explanation and how they’re going to change their protocols immediately.

  • Just signed the petition. If I am not mistaken, Howard Theater got a considerable amount of grant money from the city for renvations. Both the theater and the City need to be accountable.

  • Lazy security is unacceptable. I have been to two concerts at the Howard Theatre and enjoyed both. Food is average but the staff was nice / helpful. Are you sure the party staff / security are the normal Howard staff or did a promoter rent the venue and bring in own people for party security? I am sure they had to bring in some extra security for a party compared to the security necessary for a dinner show for some 80’s R&B group.
    When I was (much) younger I spent a fair amount of time in some rough DC /MD venues and even in the worst if a woman pointed out a guy who touched her inappropriately they would at minimum get the guy to leave (even if they were doing it just to act tough in front of the girl.) It would not surprise me if they knew the guy (or the story is exaggerated.)

  • Please do keep us updated. This is totally unacceptable.

  • This story of incompetence on the part of staff at a venue when handling an assault claim sounds very familiar to an experience I had at a local restaurant/bar…however Pop refused to post that story since the venue in question happens to be one of his sponsors.

    In my opinion, when the staff of a venue (whether it be the bouncers, management, etc) victim blame instead of taking the claim seriously and at least attempting to resolve the matter they are just as bad as the person who did the assaulting. I think requesting that Howard Theater do something to acknowledge the poor handling of this situation and what their plans are to fix it is a totally appropriate request from the complainant. I hope you get some sort of response…in my case the venue and owner whom I contacted multiple times after I was assaulted refused to even acknowledge any mishandling of the situation…thankfully DC police and a jury of my peers took the case a bit more seriously then the venue and staff.

  • I was at the Howard Theater a few weeks ago and while looking for a bathroom wandered past a red rope that I didn’t see. A bouncer shoved me and asked if I “wanted to get f-d up”. I told him to chill out but when he and another large bouncer looked like they were actually ready to fight I decided to laugh it off. Later asked if there was a security manager and was pointed to the same bouncer. No way I am going back there.

  • Already so many tales from this dump. I’ll never go.

  • Howard Homecoming isn’t all bad – but the parts involving inebriated people often are not very pleasant. My recommendation for Homecoming week – Don’t walk, bike, bus or drive 7th/GAAve/USTreet/Shaw/Chinatown, day or night. Don’t go into a place in these neighborhoods that serves alcohol or is sponsoring an event.

    • This makes no sense. Because of one unfortunate incident at a party related to Howard Homecoming, I should now avoid all HU-related parties in the district neighborhoods?

      • One incident? This is normal, commonplace activity for this week, unfortunately. harrasment, drunk driving, belligerent sense of entitlement…. Etc. You are rolling the dice if you roll with Howard homecoming. There are plenty of people doing cool things too, but the amouny of craziness and number of ***holes is higher than normal, and they act with IMPUNITY. Have you gone out in noma (your ID) for homecoming? To Ibiza or McDonalds? I have, and it is usually a quick and regrettable trip.

        • Clearly I don’t know anything personal about you or your neighbors or what you have observed nor do I doubt your fear during your close calls. All I can say is that is not what I observed. I also know the area is not crime free the other 51 weeks of the year. Howard and her students are present those other 51 weeks so odds are the students are not the problem during Homecoming. I can’t say I have not seen open containers or smelled some pot, but beyond that I have not seen fights or even loud arguments. The behavior I have observed is pretty much consistent with what I expect when a large group of young people get together to party. I also know people perceive events differently as participants as opposed to their perception as bystanders. I would say it is harder to be positive or even objective when an event is causing you inconvenience (traffic, crowded sidewalks etc.) Additionally, If you are discussing the event with neighbors who see the event the same way it may reinforce how you see the event. (I know I am biased as it relates to the event)

          I am an Alum and DC resident. I care about the Howard brand (I also care about property values, mine and others) so I try and make sure the event goes well. My brother and I have written the administration about the event in the past when we observed things that did not reflect well on the school . This year the school dialed back the Yardfest and hosted a 5k partly as a way to interface with the surrounding community who may not immediately feel a part of the festivities. I enjoy seeing white children and parents come out to the parade, it may be corny, but I see it as progress. Howard should be a good neighbor but there is definitely an certain undertone when young black people get together. If some club slaps Howard Homecoming on a flyer Howard has to own the behavior of everyone who attends? In another post you mentioned Ibiza during Homecoming. Ask Ibiza neighbors what they think about the club the other 51 weeks. I also know that McDonald gets rowdy at other times (e.g. go in on a Friday after a McKinley Tech football game.) I offer up for contrast the years when Maryland would beat Duke in hoops. Drunken behavior, burning mattresses, property damage etc. would follow, almost without fail, and we are talking about actual student behavior. Somehow the College Park residents don’t feel unsafe in that space? Imagine if Howard students behaved that way even once. Some people (not pointing a finger at you or your neighbors) will always have a problem with Howard and Homecoming. I have seen it suggested on this site that Howard should sell the campus and move to Prince Georges County, why not 147 years was good run in DC right?

          I’ll close by saying I will do my part to make sure Howard does better as it is good for the school and the community.

          • I don’t have a problem with Howard, it’s students, or homecoming. I do not want the university to leave the neighborhood, nor have I heard anyone ever make that as a serious suggestion. In fact, within ten years I expect Homecoming will become the safest week of the year and also regain its former glory in new ways. But right now, and possibly for the next five years, offshoot events and the sidewalks are often unsafe and bad actors impunitive. That is why I recommend avoiding it.

  • Do they typically fly the American flag upside down, too, or was there just a crisis or emergency the day of the photo they needed to subtly communicate?

  • As a male who supports and advocates for women on the regular, allow me to say that what happened to this young lady is atrocious and shouldnt be tolerated. HOWEVER, I do agree with the one particular point made by one poster who has shed much-needed light on this matter that we all choose to ignore! The events that transpired are NOT this young lady’s fault! But there is a “risk” to be assumed when you leave your home at night to attend ANY venue where the drinking is heavy and the common sense and decency are very little! Im sorry but you cant expect those things anymore-not in todays world. When you demand a bouncer intervene, and that dude makes a “business decision” and determines that handling that issue is out of his pay-grade, he is telling you that his job isn’t to protect you-and the truth of it all, is he is right! Unless this dude did something that turnt the club on its head he aint getting involved. His cost-benefit analysis dont include you or I! The fact that the bouncer is telling you that he’s not gonna do anything about it because dude could pop off is that bouncer’s way of doing his job with the LEAST blowback, as ass backwards as that sounds! My recommendation= buy a can of pepper spray, add dudes to your entourage, go places/venues that are less likely to host that type of crowd, or stay home! A promoter wont learn shit unless women stop going to these clubs (and if women dont go then men damn sure wont go) or until he get sued!

    • Or continue to press venues like this to up their security. This place is way too large to just sit back and pretend that assault of any kind isn’t worth stopping.
      I actually like this venue. The staff has been really nice and the food is OK depending on what you get. They need to get it together. Someone needs to renegotiate their contract if the bouncers are contractors or retraining staff if they’re in house. The least you can do is call the cops and not call your clientele a bitch. Wtf?

  • yea so…im sorry that this happened to you, it really sucks…BUT (and lets be clear here, im a woman myself, so i get it completely) that party, and i know EXACTLY what party that was, is known for only one thing: RATCHETNESS. Straight up. Any party labeled 1000 Bottles, where its open bar for everyone all night is bound to have its issues from the gate. Drunk, reckless boys grabbing girls asses and being belligerent is, unfortunately, a part of that scene. I don’t like it, so you know what? I stay my ass in the house or go do something else. I personally feel that being at a party like that is putting yourself at risk. And this is an annual party, where the same shit happens every year, so you cant even say you didnt know what it was. That bouncer, although harsh in how he said it, was absolutely right. He sees this shit EVERY YEAR. You aint the first, and you wont be the last. His job is to secure the club/venue. Unless a brawl breaks out, somebody gets stabbed or shot up, he aint movin a muscle. Pick smarter parties to attend and stay away from garbage.

    • Wow, another victim-blaming post. Whoever was working security for this event was negligent. “Security” entails more than stopping brawls and attending to people who have been stabbed or shot. It’s unfortunate that the security at the Howard that night didn’t see their job that way.

      • “K” is offering some good and articulated (albeit harsh in how she said it) information from her perspective. I’m sure the OP would have appreciated this kind of warning before going to the event.

        • I used to hang in rougher spots than the Howard Theater, Ibex, Zulu Cave, The Classics, The Legend and the Mirage (I am showing my age) not to mention clubs in other cities. There may have been some ass grabbing going on but if the girl told the bouncer they-tossed-the-dude-out, period. Should everyone avoid situations that are dangerous, yes of course, but stop making excuses for the bouncers?

          “I don’t have a problem with Howard, it’s students, or homecoming…That is why I recommend avoiding it.”

          Interesting you don’t say “I avoid it” you “recommend avoiding it.” If folk took your advice there would be no attendees. So what you have done is assumed that the PoP readership would not like to attend the Homecoming events ‘that you don’t have a problem with’ but this so-called unsafe event is good enough for those other people. Many PoP readers have been in Petworth, Shaw, Pleasant Plains, LeDroit Park View a long time now, back to when the neighborhood was much edgier and I think they can handle themselves (i.e. use common sense like they should do every day in any city.) The students only know the neighborhood as it has been for the last 3 or 4 years I worry they may let down their guard too much during Homecoming.

  • Very sorry to hear what happened to you – i am disgusted to hear how inept and pathetic the “security” was. They should be fired, and Howard Theatre needs to get more serious about protecting its patrons, unless it wants to get sued.

  • First it sucks this had to happen. Second I work at the Howard theatre and the night of this event it was outside security hired that was working the event and has a result this ended up in out whole security staff being fired but not the hired security who was actually involved in the incident. Yeah bullshit. I don’t understand why didn’t the girl just point the security out who said this to her instead of having our whole staff fired even ppl who wasn’t working that night got fired people who needed this job to feed their kids. Well hope you are happy with the outcome. And still having the guys who did this to you working hereby they were outside security and u couldn’t point them out bc u was too drunk. I’m not angry at the person I’m angry that my co workers/friends got fired over something they wasn’t involved in or even in the building for when the lady couldn’t even point out the security guard who was there. Do u think that’s fair?

  • I heard there had been previous issues and they have a video tape. Might be other reasons for letting staff go.

Comments are closed.