The Town Hall Hotel in Newtown is facing a PR crisis following the vicious assault of a performer at their venue on Friday.
Stephanie McCarthy alleges she was assaulted by up to five men after being harassed and having her hair pulled before being left with a black eye and bruised lip. She is alleging that she tried to alert The Townie staff that trouble was brewing prior to the assault and that the venue compounded matters by letting the alleged offenders leave before police arrived. Ms. McCarthy said on Twitter, "I warned the security about them, 5 guys followed me all night, calling me a fag. They did nothing."
Today, a crowd watched by police gathered outside The Townie to protest against the assault and against the venue.
Mainstream and social media coverage has erupted. Patrons on The Townie's Facebook Page are promising not to return to the venue, either at all, or until the security team has been sacked. The Townie has issued a statement which says, in part, "It is our policy to immediately and respectfully act on any potential or reported incidents of antisocial behaviour" [full statement embedded from Facebook below].
A friend of Ms McCarthy said "Steph was followed and harassed by two men on her way to play her first show at The Townie. She notified staff but not only did they allow the men into the pub, but when Steph was eventually violently bashed by those two absolute pieces of shit, staff at The Townie let them leave before they could be charged by police."
The Hotel has denied any knowledge of McCarthy speaking to them prior to the event and it has asked people with knowledge to the contrary to contact them.
Another spokesperson for The Townie — who is believed to be a transgender woman herself — posted, "I do know that the staff were stunned and upset by what happened and dealt with the aftermath as best they could. We have CCTV footage and want to see justice served for the victim, we are doing what we can to help the with police with their inquiries.
"We in no way condone this behaviour and have not seen it happen at The Townie in recent years - we were talking about it and no one could actually remember the last time there was an assault here … I can say the vibe today is almost a polar opposite of the old Townie that people used to expect this sort of thing to happen in."
The Town Hall Hotel is a small locals venue. Our goal has been to create an environment that both promotes and reflects...
Posted by The Townie on Saturday, 6 June 2015
By contrast, people have posted on the hotel's Facebook Page of recent violent experiences there while some others have defended the venue.Chuckles Bunt:
I've been in and out of the Townie for thirty years and I have never seen any violence there. I've brought musicians in from Holland, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan, too. No one has had to deal with any threats. The Townie is an amazing spring board for bands.Troy Zarb:
I've been playing the Townie for years, Half of my band is female. I'm sad to hear what happened and everyone has every right to be angry about this. The venue is very well managed especially when it comes to security and intox. Unfortunately these things can happen in any venue at any time.
I've seen nothing but violence and bigotry at The Townie so quite frankly, all those who are coming to the defence of this venue - well, I can actually imagine the type of punter you are... sadly.
Some people have signalled an intention to raise the matter with the licensing authorities. Ms McCarthy has laid blame at the feet of the lock-out laws in the Sydney CBD.
Many agree that the event is a PR disaster.
Other have noted the fame and profile associated with Caitlyn Jenner is far removed from the daily experiences of non-celebrity transgender people.
While many of the facts are in dispute — the assault victim is now openly accusing the venue of lying — public anger is overwhelming in the face of allegations that security allowed the offenders abscond — with some observing that no part of the venue's words after the event match with the venue's actions prior to the event.
This is a developing story.