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Protesters demand shut down of Fullerton restaurant

Protesters demand shut down of Fullerton restaurant at August 8th protest on the corner of Harbor Blvd and Commonwealth Ave.

Around 20 demonstrators showed up on August 7th and that number doubled on August 8th in front of JP23 Urban Kitchen on the corner of Commonwealth Ave and Harbor Blvd. “It is a dangerous place, and we will shut it down,” one demonstrator said. Samantha Velasquez says she was drugged at JP23 on August 1, and then later raped, and left in a parking structure near the Metro station. Velasquez decided to post her story on social media, and it went viral. Many women began sharing similar stories on Instagram, Nextdoor, and a variety of other social media. A group formed and the consensus of the newly formed group was that the restaurant was to blame for perpetuating a rape culture. Several people began organizing protests to demand the restaurant/bar shut down.

During the first protest, JP23 released part of a surveillance camera video from the night of the alleged rape on their Facebook page. The partial clip showed Velasquez stumbling toward a table and twerking (a sexually provocative dance) with a man in a Hawaiian shirt who does not appear intoxicated. Later in the clip it shows Velasquez being led out by the man. Velasquez said she wants the restaurant to post the entire video, especially the part where she was drugged. The video clip has since been taken down. Many protesters said they thought posting the clip was meant to shame Velasquez.

When asked why the clip was released, JP23 owner Jacob Poozhikala told the Observer, “The clip shows that Velasquez was not under duress and that the restaurant’s security had no probable cause to interfere with her leaving. We have gone above and beyond what is required by any other restaurant in downtown Fullerton for the security of our patrons. We have surveillance cameras, security guards, lighting, and training that gives our patrons the sense of safety and security that makes them loyal customers.”

The effects of date rape drugs cause lack of inhibition, impaired judgment, and memory loss, among other symptoms. According to healthline.com, these are fast acting, powerful drugs that leave a person vulnerable to assault and do not always show up on toxicology reports. Depending on the drug and the metabolism of the individual a person can seem intoxicated, but still look like they are in control of themselves.

Employees of JP23 say they have been getting death threats and people calling them rapists. A video on Nextdoor, shows protestors calling the JP23 security rapists and demanding to have their sign returned. One employee said, “I have a family. I am not a rapist, and neither are my coworkers. My coworkers are all good people. It is tragic what happened to this girl, but they should focus on the bad guy who did this to her.”

This is what happened to Samantha in her own words as told to the Observer. “I went to JP23 on my own and met up with my friend Candace. Candace introduced me to a guy name Mike, he was nice and kept me company for a while after Candace left.”

“Mike and I were at the bar when I got to talking with two girls. Some guy bought us all drinks. At that time, I had just finished my second drink. I asked the girls to introduce me to this guy with a red shirt. We hit it off. I danced with him for a while, but then I went to the bathroom.”

“That was when I left my drink unattended. I got into a little altercation with one of the girls. She kept banging on the bathroom door yelling for me to let her in. [When I came back] I finished my drink. That is when I think I was drugged. I don’t remember anything until I woke up in the parking structure near the Metro station with none of my belongings. My leggings were ripped. I had to walk home. I told my roommate that I lost all my stuff and could she track my phone for me. We tracked it to a locked city maintenance vehicle. I never found my fanny pack.”

“Then I called my mom and told her what happened. My mom called JP23 to report the situation. When my mom asked to talk to the manager or owner, she was told that they couldn’t speak to her. My mom took me to the Fullerton police [station]. We made the report with Officer Harvey. We also went to Anaheim Medical to get a rape test done. That is when they found blunt force trauma.”

(A rape kit is a four-to-six-hour examination to collect all biological evidence left behind in a sexual assault. During the examination any injuries are documented and treated. The victim’s body is photographed to preserve evidence of bruising and injuries. Blunt force trauma means that the genitals have been injured. In cases of sexual assault this can include injury to pelvis, urethra, lower urinary tract, and gastrointestinal. These injuries may lead to abscess formation, sepsis, and even death if not treated. According to endthebacklog.org)

Many of the demonstrators at the August 7th protest shared their thoughts:

Curtis said he and his significant other, Jessica, were at JP23 about a year ago enjoying a drink. When Jessica complained that she felt drugged. They did not report it. “This bar is either being negligent and not able to create a safe environment, or they are trying to hide the fact that a group of predators are using this as a stomping ground for date rape. If the bar is complicit and is an accessory, then I want them to be shut down.”

Another woman has come forward with allegations of being drugged at this restaurant as well said, “I came here for a night out. We were only here for maybe an hour, and then everything went black. Seven hours later, I woke up in jail. They told me I was found passed out/unconscious in a security exit. It’s an ongoing investigation right now.” (According to California Penal Code 647(F), the standard procedure when finding a person unconscious is [not to take them to the hospital], but to determine if they are intoxicated by administering a test and then arresting and charge them for Public Intoxication.)

Another demonstrator said that she thought there has been an enforcement issue in the downtown area for a long time. “There are too many bars so close together. The city spends over a million dollars per year to enforce, clean, and fix damage. That is well over the amount of revenue the city brings in from the area. It is out of control.”

Jane said, “I came here because I wanted Samantha to know that we believe her. We are standing here for her. We are grateful for her coming forward. I am so glad that she has the strength to be here.”

Jose Castaneda showed up at the demonstration and told protesters to go to city council on August 17th to make their voices heard.

The Observer asked councilmembers to comment and two gave the following statements:

Councilmember Fred Jung said that he went on a ride-along with Fullerton police back in May where he witnessed first-hand problems with JP23. “I witnessed over 30 people being arrested that night, including a security guard from JP23 who had brass knuckles that he used on a patron. I asked to look into their conditional use permit for any violations. I want to assure the public that we will get to the bottom of this issue in a timely manner. It is a public nuisance and safety issue.”

Councilmember Ahmad Zahra agreed that safety is paramount and that the city is taking this matter very seriously. “We must set improved safety standards for our downtown and bar establishments in our city. We should create a downtown “Business Improvement District” in partnership with our businesses, then reinvest the revenue into safety, clean-up, and maintenance of our downtown. We should also invest in economic development to attract more family oriented activities, such as arts and culture.”

Fullerton Police Department Public Information Officer Sergeant Brandon Clyde when contacted by the Observer on August 8th said, “Detectives have been assigned and have actively been investigating the incident since the report was received earlier this week. Our detectives are diligently working and have been in contact with other parties and statements have been taken. We encourage anyone with information to contact Detective K. Pedrosa at 714-738-6763 or anonymously call Orange County Crime Stoppers at 1(855) TIP-OCCS.”

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27 replies »

  1. If you are concerned, don’t go to the restaurant. Enough people staying away and the restaurant folds.
    If it was my daughter I would not want her to go to a bar with out proper escort–a person who would look out for her. Actually I would not want her to go to a bar anytime. But then I am old fashioned.

    • The bar is in on it with the strangers, so female patrons trying to avoiding strangers may still get spiked by the bar establishment. This place needs to get wrecking-balled or shutdown.

      • The bar business is doing what it can by providing security video to law enforcement (NOT to the public: it is EVIDENCE in a criminal investigation). The bar has no legal power to restrain patrons/guests from leaving absent reasonable cause (evidence) to suspect them of having committed felonies against the business, its personnel, patrons/guests or other persons on the premises.
        California Penal Code 647(F) as described grants power to the bar to administer an intoxication test to an UNCONSCIOUS person on their premises, and to request police to take custody of the person and to remove them from the premises.
        Leaving one’s drink unattended is foolishly negligent but not criminal unless perhaps where persons under 21 may have access to it. I would be inclined to require on-premises alcoholic beverage establishments to discard drinks left unattended. A sign posted notifying patrons of such an ordinance would absolve the bars from customers irate because the drinks they left unattended had disappeared while they were gone dancing, to the restroom, to their cars, off chatting.
        “Victim blaming?” The bar is not a police agency. Nor is it a nanny service. The primary interest of the business is to protect itself, its property and its personnel from crime and to obey the law.

  2. Penal code 647(F) mandates if person found unconscious in vicinity of Fullerton’s downtown bacchanals, then toss them in Fullerton P. D. Drunk tank and hopefully they eventually awake. Does FPD have a qualified person assess whether the unconscious person is medically stable, determine not overdosing on drugs ingested voluntarily or involuntarily with possible depressed breathing causing coma and possible death?

    • THE FPD IS NOT WORTHY OF DOING THEIR JOB IT SEEMS, CAN’T EVEN GET A DETECTIVE TO CALL YOU BACK ONCE A COMPLAINT IS FILED… I GUESS TO THEM, ALL PEOPLE WHO GO TO BARS DESERVE THIS AND THEY MUST ALL BE DRUNKS… WE DON’T COUNT RIGHT..

  3. If JP23 was trying to exonerate itself, why didn’t it post the full video? Do police have the full video? Might shed light on the drugging issue.

  4. Last questions and I’ll shuttie: Have police identified the man she left with (Hawaiian shirt)? If not, can JP23 or patrons who were there that night identify him? Are there any suspects?

  5. Most women know when they go to night clubs/ bars that things like this can happen…yet they put themselves in harms way and drink alcohol around strangers and then claim that they innocent…you dance to thug music…but don’t want the lyrics to happen to ya

      • HOW RUDE YOU ARE DUDE! hOPEFULLY THIS NEVER HAPPENS TO ANY OF YOUR WOMEN RELATIVES OR YOU!! IDIOT DRUG RAPISTS DON’T DISCRIMINATE…. SO BEFORE YOU POST STUPID COMMENTS, KNOW WHAT CAN REALLY HAPPEN WHEN BAD PEOPLE ARE OUT TO DO BAD HARM, THEY ARE PROFESSIONAL AND KNOW HOW TO DO THE DAMAGE TO LOOK LIKE ALL US WOMEN ARE HERE FOR ONE THING….

    • Wow…just wow.

      Even if you have zero females in your life, EVERYONE (including IVF), CAME FROM A FEMALE! How foul?! I don’t care if a female chooses to literally go out in just a bra and t-back. NO ONE :wants: (much less DESERVES) to be drugged, gang raped, then left for dead. NO ONE. What kind of foul, garbage human beings are you?!

    • Mike you’re part of the problem. Clearly this is an ongoing issue and your ignorance does not go unnoticed. People can be targeted anytime, anywhere for anything. Educate yourself on making senseless comments.

    • You are seriously victim blaming?! Anyone should be able to wear what they like, drink around the general public (aka strangers), dance and have fun without worrying about the terrible actions others might take against them.
      We shouldn’t have to live our lives in fear of the world. We have a right to enjoy life and be innocent. Wearing dress and having a cocktail does not make us bad people who deserve to be drugged or assaulted! What kind of a viewpoint is that?
      We need to hold the men accountable who are drugging these women, not the other way around! Why should I live my life in fear simply bc I’m female???

      • It’s no one’s responsibility to provide you with personal protection absent an agreement to do so.
        Bars are not nanny services. Their personnel are not bodyguards for other than their own personnel.

  6. it is not illegal to be young and/or stupid. It IS ILLEGAL to drug and rape someone. This victim shaming bs has got to stop. If she had bought in there naked, asking for drinks for free… It still doesn’t justify being raped and drugged.

    CITY IF FULLERTON, JP23 AND RAPISTS(S) ARE ONLY ONES TO BLAME!

    • The city, its police agents, the sheriff, the businesses are not there to provide individuals with personal bodyguard or nanny services.
      You are responsible for looking out for and protecting yourself.
      The comments re: women (or men for that matter) going out in public dressed, or undressed, as they please, dancing, drinking alcoholic beverages, smoking weed if legal, have nothing to do with any imagined duty of a bar business to provide anyone other than its personnel with physical protection.
      If a woman (or man for that matter) of legal age (21+) is stark naked, drinking, dancing, and is “sexually assaulted” in plain sight no one has any legal duty to do anything beyond the bar requesting police to come deal with the situation. We may believe that they have a moral duty but that is not the same as a duty imposed by law.
      The bouncers are hired to protect the business, its reputation, and its personnel, not the patrons/guests/customers. The bartenders and servers are legally responsible to refuse to serve inebriating beverages, etc. to apparently intoxicated persons. Unconscious persons should be reported to the police agency and EMT service. Rowdy, threatening, violent persons may be subdued with reasonable force (NOT knucks!) and removed from the premises into police agency custody as quickly as possible.
      If bar, strip club, porno palaces, are costing the city more in policing than they pay in taxes and fees, such taxes and fees should be accordingly increased. These costs are passed on to the businesses’ customers.

  7. Omg – so much victim blaming!! No one – no matter how intoxicated or initially willing they may had been, deserves to be raped!

    • AMEN TO THAT. Anybody who thinks to the contrary, should be ashamed of themselves. Karma is your buddy now!

    • Irrelevant to the matter of the bars’ responsibilities. The ones correctly blamed are the assaulters, the rapists and any accomplices, not the bar businesses.
      That the alleged victim was careless, foolish, stupid does not in any way reduce the blame for the criminals: assaulters, the rapists and any accomplices.

  8. Let’s shut JP23 down and ensure the Long Beach location never opens ! Jacob your time is up! Get the boxes and bail money ready! Justice is coming for you

  9. At JP23 in Fullerton, My best-friend Solé Zion Mitchell-Hall met up some guy who goes by DJ Vibes on July 24th, 2021. My sources say, after running into Solé and having a short conversation with her, she seemed sober when he found her with this guy/DJ around 12:45 am and also mentions that when he said “Hi” to Solé, the guy/DJ gave him weird vibes. My sources say she had a moment at the bar with this guy/DJ, but they can’t confirm if she had a drink. The guy/DJ, that she was with, left her there and she walked out alone when JP23’s security guards started kicking everyone out at 1:30am.

    I know that she was familiar with JP23 as she was romantically talking to one of their security guards but cut communication before that night.

    We have no idea what happened to her, But she was the wrong-way driver who drove 18+ miles from Fullerton/Anaheim to Long Beach on the morning of July 25th, 2021 after visiting JP23. CHP did nothing after they received the first and multiple 911 call reporting her; nothing for 18+ miles ’til she hit a solo driver, Aaron, head-on in the HOV line at around 5:25am.

    Her mother, Nashon tried to make contact with her all night. Shortly before the crash, Solé finally responded via text that she was on her way home and confirmed “yes,” she had work that morning.

    With the news about multiple women falling victims of the date rape drug, Rohypnol, at this establishment, we suspect that she may have been a victim of the drug as well. Effects of Rohypnol, can hit as early as 30 minutes and last up to 8 hours, can include extreme drowsiness and impaired judgement.

    Nashon has tried to reach out to the owner of JP23 and FPD to ask for a chance to review the videos of the evening her daughter passed. WE WANT JP23 TO SHARE VIDEOS FROM THAT NIGHT and for anyone to speak up if they know anything about the series of event that happened that night.

    • The criminal or civil investigators can subpoena the videos, any other evidence, any witnesses. With digital storage of videos so cheap today, requiring bar and similar businesses to have appropriate surveillance equipment (cameras, recorders) and to store the videos for at least six months, is, I believe, very reasonable. Providing police access to private surveillance equipment (cameras) is reasonable as well.

    • Righto. If cities don’t want the problems that come with bars, head shops, porno palaces, dancing halls, bawdy houses, liquor, wine, beer, don’t permit them.
      More practically, charge high enough taxes and fees to cover the costs of allowing them.

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