News (USA)

A man yelling homophobic slurs used a hammer to shatter the front door of a gay-owned bar

The shattered door of Chicago's R Public House after a man shouting homophobic slurs smashed it with a hammer
The shattered door of Chicago's R Public House after a man shouting homophobic slurs smashed it with a hammer

A gay-owned Chicago bar and grill was the target of an alleged hate crime on Monday when a man shouting homophobic slurs used a hammer to smash the restaurant’s glass door.

R Public House, located in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood, is owned by married couple Renee Labrana and Sandra Carter. Labrana described it to the Chicago Sun-Times as a “safe space for anyone who wants to come in.”

In the early evening on Monday, Labrana – who was not present when the attack took place – said a man followed a couple into the bar and called them homophobic slurs before asking them to fight him. After he was asked to leave, he came back with a hammer, which he used to smash the glass front door. He then fled the scene.

The sound of the hammer hitting the glass caused many customers to start running toward the back, thinking it was gunshots.

Surveillance video captured the man – who appears to be wearing a medical mask – outside the establishment.

“It’s very frustrating and disconcerting because we live in this neighborhood because it’s so diverse, and we love that about the neighborhood,” said Labrana. “So you tend to forget that there’s people that hate you out there just for who you love. And it makes me really angry that we even have to think about it.”

The restaurant’s Twitter account posted a photo of the smashed door and wrote, “Nothing like a homophobic guy with a hammer yelling anti-gay slurs at customers and threatening them to shake up the night. WTF is wrong with people.”

The Sun-Times reported that hate crimes in Chicago reached their highest in 11 years in 2022, with Rogers Park experiencing the second highest rates. Across the city, anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes were the most common type.

As of Tuesday, no arrests had been made in the incident at R Public House. Labrana emphasized to ABC7 Eyewitness News that they refuse to be intimidated by the act.

“We’re going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing. We’re still gonna be welcoming of everyone, and that will never change.”

“We can safely say that we know that the community will rally around us,” Carter said. “We’re not afraid.”

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