During this time, another male in the crowd also physically assaulted a staff member, who was knocked unconscious. Staff members then restrained this person as well until police and paramedics arrived. Police were successful in dispersing the scene upon arrival. Paramedics treated our unconscious staff member. Staff members who were assaulted declined to press charges, SFPD chose not to arrest the assailants, and all parties left on their own.
You may have seen one of the attackers trying to provoke a social-media pile-on over this, and that's to be expected. But when someone says, "I was attacked because I was smoking a cigarette", ask yourself if there's more to the story and whether another narrative is more likely. Such as:
A patron is told, "Hey, you can't smoke in line", and responds by screaming and swearing at our staff. Because of that behavior, they are then told, "Ok, now you're not coming in, good night." Then, they decide to smack our staff in the face. And so on.
The first part of that story -- "you're acting like an asshole, so you can't come in" -- happens dozens of times a week. Almost all of the time it stops there. It's how we protect our patrons from those who don't know how to behave in public, because how you act outside is also how you're going to act inside. But nobody films that part.
Our staff are trained to de-escalate and disengage. Usually getting a difficult patron outside is all that it takes; after a little while, they calm down and go away. Everybody wins. It is repeatedly drilled into our staff that restraining a patron and calling the police is the last possible option, and must be avoided until all other options have been exhausted. In this case, despite repeated attempts, a patron would not stop physically attacking staff, and outside intervention was deemed necessary.
Nobody is comfortable watching a video of someone being restrained, especially when it involves a woman or black person or in this case both, but we stand by the staff members involved in this incident who did everything they could to ensure the safety of everyone involved, including staff, bystanders and the two people who assaulted them.
For clarity, it was the point at which she punched a female staff member in the face that the woman in question was restrained.
For those of you watching the video that is making the rounds, our staff member can be seen clearly keeping both hands on this woman's shoulder with the intention of minimizing movement. At no point is the arm across her compressing her neck or restricting her airflow. At no point was this woman unresponsive as she is now claiming. Our staff members had every reason to believe that if she was released, she would immediately become violent again, further escalating the incident.
While it is unfortunate that this occurred, and it was an awful experience for everyone involved, we support the decisions our staff had to make during a very difficult situation.
Update 2: Continued.
Update 3: We have surveillance footage.