Thug with hammer smashes-up gay-owned restaurant in suspected homophobic attack

A photo from Chicago's R Public House shows the front door that was shattered during an alleged homophobic incident

A gay-owned restaurant in Chicago has been the target of a suspected homophobic attack, in which its front was door shattered by a hammer-wielding man who shouted anti-gay slurs at customers.

On Monday (16 January) witnesses and police say a man was heard shouting anti-gay slurs at a couple before he followed them into the R Public House in the 1500 block of West Jarvis Avenue.

After customers stood up to the man and told him to leave, he allegedly turned violent. 

Bar employee Corey Rolon told ABC affiliate WLS-TV: “He walked in, started calling them some like anti-gay slurs, and they were like, ‘just leave, man, just get out of here.'”

“And then he took out a hammer and started bashing everything.”

Couple Sandra Carter and Renee Labrana, who have owned R Public House for a decade, said people ran for the exits when the glass shattered. 

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“They weren’t sure if it was gunshots,” Labrana said. 

“And knowing the horrific hate crimes that have happened in different bars, it was scary.”

The couple told the Chicago Sun-Times they created the pub in a bid to provide a “a safe and affirming space open to all”. 

But they said the attack was a reminder not everyone is welcoming of their inclusive vision. 

“It’s very frustrating and disconcerting because we live in this neighborhood because it’s so diverse, and we love that about the neighborhood,” Labrana said

“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.”

Following the incident R Public House took to social media to thank people for their support and also left a message about raising money to repair the door.

The message read: “Doors are replaceable, you are not! Let’s turn this around.” 

Any money raised above what it costs to repair door will be donated to Rogers Park organisation, “A Just Harvest“, which works to fight poverty and hunger in Chicago by providing people with daily meals. 

President Joe Biden and other lawmakers have linked a broader conservative anti-LGBTQ+ campaign in the US with fuelling hatred towards the community, setting the stage for violence like the Colorado Springs shooting.

PinkNews has contacted R Public House for comment. 

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