Local bar JP23 Urban Kitchen was the target of another protest on Saturday, August 14 by demonstrators demanding the bar be closed. Police are continuing to investigate allegations of a rape downtown brought by a young woman who said she believes she was drugged at the bar and later assaulted.
Bar owner Jacob Poozhikala, who maintains the business is not involved, said, “I have received death threats. They even posted my home address.” Poozhikala’s business dropped off drastically after the accusation by protesters that his restaurant has a rape culture. He decided to have a customer appreciation day and give a free meal to all his loyal customers.
“This past week I have learned a lot about public perception. It is not about who is right or wrong,” said Gurj, head of social media for JP23. “When this girl cried rape and made it about our business, it really hurt us. It is also hurting our neighbors. This is not a normal Saturday.”
Around 15 protesters showed up Saturday and began chanting, “F**k JP23!” In response, four JP23 employees chanted back, “We do not consent!” A car pulled up and a very drunk man got out and assaulted the protesters. One of the JP23 security guards asked if the protesters were okay to which the protesters told him to F**k off. Two of the businesses’ female employees danced around with signs that said, “Facts over feelings” and “JP23 stands with women.”
Carlos, a patron of JP23, said, “You know the people come here, they drink a lot. You can’t go to a night club and expect them to take care of you. That is on you. You know?”
Jules, a Fullerton resident out walking his dog, said, “This is shameful what they are doing to this business. They should find out who is in charge of this whole activity and charge them for slander.”
The next evening on August 15, around nine people showed up to protest including the assault victim Samantha Velasquez and her mother. Employees from JP23 handed out fluorescent t-shirts to patrons that read, “Women Are Safe at JP23.” Some of those patrons later became aggressive and tried verbally shaming the alleged sexual assault victim. “She was “cochonda” [horny] and she drank too much. She got what she was asking for,” said one customer referring to Samantha, who alleges that she was drugged, raped, and left in a parking structure. Another patron, who was notably drunk, was pulled back by his friend after trying to pick a fight with protestors.
Jacob Poozhikala said his business, JP23 Urban Kitchen, his employees, his family, and his life were threatened. “People were yelling that we are rapists. Why? Because this girl says she was raped? Why isn’t she going after the guy who did this to her,” Poozhikala said, “Really, what were we supposed to do? She looked fine when she left.”
When asked what the policy on intoxicated people is at JP23, Poozhikala wrote, “Over-intoxication is a tough measurement because we are unaware of how many drinks they [the customer] had prior to coming to the establishment. But once we realize they are intoxicated, our policy is to serve no more alcohol, offer water, and make sure they have friends with them. If they choose not to comply, we usually escort them out. That is a last resort and usually happens because they become aggressive and violent because we won’t serve them alcohol anymore.”
According to Poozhikala, he has bought weapons to protect himself and hired a private investigator who reports to have uncovered additional video of Samantha Velasquez later in the evening near JP23. The private investigator along with some employees also allege that Samantha and others have made fake accounts to leave bad reviews for the restaurant. The Observer uncovered reviews going back as far as 2016 that claim theft, drugging, fighting, and terrible service. According to Forbes Business, bad reviews can damage a business’s reputation.
The protesters say they are going to show up at the City Council meeting scheduled for August 17.
Categories: Local News