After reporting that a bias attack took place over the weekend at a bar located inside YOTEL New York, GaySocialites.com spoke exclusively with a representative authorized to speak on behalf of the hotel who said his organization is committed to supporting the LGBT community, especially considering that many members of his organization fit into that demographic.
Although Geoffrey Mills, Yotel’s Managing Director, wasn’t present when the incident occurred, he was briefed on the sequence of events by reviewing the surveillance video shot on cameras placed throughout the bar and taking testimony from staff members working that night. He also said he has been in contact with those involved in the incident to gather their side of the story and regain their loyalty as customers.
Mills, however, admits the incident didn’t exactly unfold without flaws.
“I think mistakes were made by several people,” he said.
Although Mills recognizes that it is the duty and responsiblity of the authorities to determine what is considered to be a bias crime and what isn’t, there seems to be no denying that two patrons who were partying at the YOTEL bar assaulted a gay man late Saturday night after hurling homophoboic remarks at him. That, Mills says, was mistake number one.
“YOTEL New York is committed to a first class, welcoming experience for all of our customers, and there is no tolerance for hatred or discrimination at our hotel,” he told GaySocialites.com.
The surveillance video shows that nightlife personality Jamie Ranieri jumped in to help the gay man, a friend of hers. Jamie told GaySocialites.com that the two men at YOTEL called her friend a “faggot” before attacking him while the bar’s staff did nothing to help her prevent the incident from progressing forward. Jamie says she went to the bar and asked for assistance from a bartender by the name of Christine and was seemingly ignored.
Mills explained that although he couldn’t hear the audio of the discussion, it was clear that Jamie did come to the bar and have a conversation with Christine just as the incident was escalating. According to a member of the management team who provided Mills with his information, the bartender sent the barback to get security after Jamie informed him of what was about to occur. However, since Jamie didn’t realize that Christine even acknowledged her cry for help, she went to her friend’s defense. When the bouncers arrived at the scene, Jamie was being manhandled by the bullies.
“Protocol is for bartenders to send someone, such as the barback, for assistance,” Mills explained. He said this seems to be the safest way to get a problem quickly solved. If a staff member vacates their post, it then jeopardizes the safety of everyone in the establishment and leaves their work station open to vulnerability.
Despite the fact that the bartender followed proper measures for obtaining assistance, she neglected to alert those involved that help was on the way. Had she done so, maybe Jamie wouldn’t have felt as though she needed to take matters into her own hands. That could be considered mistake number two.
Mills says the video shows the entire incident play out. It shows that Jamie was grabbed by one of the attackers and shows the victim (whose name is not being released at their request) being hit multiple times by one of the men who previously called him a “faggot”.
From there, Jamie told us that the attackers tried to flee the scene with at least one of them getting away. Since we’re highlighting the mistakes, this conflicting information could be considered mistake number three.
Mills said the two attackers were actually physically removed from the bar and taken to another location in the hotel. There they were essentially “bounced” from the venue and told that the behavior they had displayed would not be tolerated by YOTEL New York.
“The guys acted out of line and shouldn’t have done what they did,” Mills said.
Meanwhile, Jamie and the person who was assaulted were moved to another area inside YOTEL where they met with a member of hotel management.
“You could see in the video that [the victim] had a pretty bad black eye and several scratches,” Mills explained
For that reason, he was offered medical attention but declined. Mills also told us that Ranieri and the victim sat with that member of YOTEL’s management team who coincidentally knew the victim, having met prior to this incident.
As for the previously mentioned bartender, she was back at the bar sharing in a bit of a celebration with some of her patrons (something Jamie spoke with GaySocialites.com about on Sunday). Mills says you can see her “high five” a few people standing around the bar, one of which, was a same-sex couple.
He also recognized that as a mistake.
Although Mills said he believes Christine and company were sharing their joy in the fact that the disturbance was over and not cheering the attack on the gay men, he says disciplinary action will be taken.
And while mistakes were made, it was the fact that the incident occurred at all that surprised Mills most.
As previously mentioned, he said YOTEL does not tolerate homophibia. As a matter of fact, Mills praised Ranieri’s bravery for defending her gay friend and putting herself in a position where she too could have been severely injured. That’s because Mills said YOTEL has a great interest in making sure people from all walks of life are comfortable within his establishment.
“YOTEL has been and will remain a very active supporter of the LGBT community here in New York,” he said.
Not only did he highlight the diversity of the events held within the hotel, but he also made it a point to emphasize that between 40 and 50 percent of the staff at YOTEL identifies as a member of the LGBT community. In particular, several members of the staff on duty during this incident were gay men and women.
Mills said that following an internal investigation, disciplinary sanctions will be handed down to those who made mistakes throughout the incident. However, he feels as though his staff did a good job overall in handling the incident that occurred but wants to ensure that members of the LGBT community always feel safe and welcomed at YOTEL.
Mills has also offered to host a meeting with anyone involved in the incident as well as others who have addressed their concern about the incident. He said those in attendance are welcomed to offer information on the investigation or ask about YOTEL’s commitment to the LGBT community.
GaySocialites.com will continue to follow this story and keep you posted on any other development as they unfold.
YOTEL New York responds to gay bashing, says mistakes were made p.ost.im/p/evjDn7
— GaySocialites.com (@gaysocialites) June 13, 2012