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LGBTQ nightclub in Fresno targeted by threats, harassment during Pride Month

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The 29th annual Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival is one of the largest LGBTQ event in the Central Valley. Each year thousands attend the Tower District event where people can be themselves.
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The 29th annual Fresno Rainbow Pride Parade & Festival is one of the largest LGBTQ event in the Central Valley. Each year thousands attend the Tower District event where people can be themselves.

An incident captured on video showing a woman lashing out at patrons of an LGBTQ nightclub in Fresno sparked online harassment and threats of violence, prompting Fresno police to launch an investigation.

The anti-LBGTQ harassment comes during Pride Month and on the heels of Fresno’s 29th annual Rainbow Pride Festival and parade through the Tower District.

FAB Fresno owner Cisco Mendez said issues started Friday night after a woman refused to leave his Tower District nightclub. Video recorded by Mendez appears to show the woman yelling anti-LGBTQ slurs on the sidewalk and, at one point, she appears to smack Mendez’s phone from his hand.

After posting the video on his personal Facebook page the following morning, a comment was left that read, “Change the name of this club to pulse nightclub Since you will share the same fate.”

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The user also left a photo of Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that was taken after the mass shooting on June 12, 2016, that left 49 people dead.

Lt. Mark Hudson said Fresno police are investigating the statement. Police have not received any official complaints or reports about the woman in the video, he added.

The Bee isn’t identifying the woman because she hasn’t been accused of a crime.

Hudson said he wasn’t aware of increased police presence at FAB, but officers are always out in the area and there is a Tower District unit.

Mendez, the club owner, said harassment and threats like this have never happened at FAB since its opening nearly four years ago.

He began recording Friday after a fight broke out inside FAB between the woman later recorded on video and another unidentified woman. When he told the women to leave, the woman seen on video attacked and kicked him, he said.

“Her friends pushed me and I went to security,” he said. “The woman did not leave and was there another 30 to 45 minutes harassing people.”

The Bee spoke with the woman on Monday, and she said she’s been getting threats all weekend from people who saw the video. The woman said she is ill and should not have been mixing alcohol with her medication. She said she is sorry for what happened.

Leon Velasco, chairperson of Fresno’s LGBT Pink Panther Movement, said despite the incidents, he is not advising those in the LGBTQ community to stay home.

“They have no reason why they should hold back,” he said. “At the end of the day, everyone has the right to a happy life.”

But Velasco, who is also on Fresno’s police advisory board, is cautioning the LGBTQ community to stay vigilant of their surroundings, to travel in groups and to call 911 if anything looks suspicious.

“I’m saddened that such a situation should be happening after all the work community leaders have put in to dispel any ill feelings toward the LGBTQ community,” Velasco said.

Ashleigh Panoo: 559-441-6010, @AshleighPanoo
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