A man was arrested in the early hours of Tuesday morning at adored, queer Bushwick watering hole HappyFun Hideaway for attacking a bouncer, shouting homophobic slurs and threatening to come back “Orlando style” after being thrown out, according to police reports and witnesses.
The individual, identified by the police as 40-year-old Bedford-Stuyvesant resident Justin Rice, was at the bar at 1211 Myrtle Ave with his girlfriend around 11 p.m. on Monday night when the couple started fighting. A bouncer who intervened was unable to stop the argument, and eventually threw Mr. Rice out of the bar.
Mr. Rice threw at least one punch at the bouncer and also threw a metal bucket at him while carrying on a heated tirade in which he referred repeatedly to the parties at the bar as “f*ggots” and threatened to come back “Orlando style,” referring to this past weekend’s bloodbath at Latin night at a gay nightclub in Florida.
He was arrested at 1:35 a.m. Tuesday morning and charged with attempted assault, aggravated harassment and criminal possession of a weapon (which police sources identified as the bucket launched at the bouncer). The case is now with the office of Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Mr. Rice has a single previous arrest on his record from December of 2015, when he was charged with obstruction of government administration and disorderly conduct.
New York City law enforcement is on high alert at LGBT sites around the city in the wake of the Orlando attacks, especially with New York’s Pride weekend on the horizon; NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton predicts that attendance at this year’s New York City Pride Parade will be the highest ever because of the events in Florida.
HappyFun Hideaway, a sister site to DIY venue Secret Project Robot and gallery space, bar and cafe Flowers for All Occasions, opened a little over three years ago. It’s always been an inclusive space and defies many gay bar conventions, but many of its parties and other events have been queer-oriented: a post on HappyFun’s Facebook page says that the DJ Monday night was Macy Rodman, a musician and drag queen and the host of the long running drag party Bathsalts.
HappyFun proprietor Rachel Nelson tells Bushwick Daily that it’s business as usual at the bar. “We’re open, of course. There was a drunk guy saying stupid stuff. the press is trying to compare it to orlando, which is shameful.” As of the time of publication of this story, the incident has been reported by most of the city’s major news outlets.