Arsonist Sets Fire To Brooklyn Bar Popular With LGBTQ+ Community

Screenshot 4-8-22

Co-owner Claire Bendiner called the incident “One of the worst experiences of my life” in an interview with a local news affiliate. “I’m certainly shaken.”

An arsonist set fire to Rash Bar in Brooklyn Sunday night.

The incident occurred just before 9:30 on Sunday night, when a man poured flammable liquid onto the floor of the bar. He then proceeded to light a match, igniting the fluid, before fleeing. The owner says there were several people inside when the incident occurred. Two employees, a bartender and a DJ, had to run through the fire to get out. Both left with injuries and are expected to recover. 

On Wednesday, police released video surveillance from the night of the incident, which shows a man in a hoodie with a cigarette pouring liquid onto the floor of the bar. Moments later, he stoops down to ignite the pool, which explodes into flames. 

Co-owner Claire Bendiner called the incident “One of the worst experiences of my life” in an interview with a local news affiliate. “I’m certainly shaken.”

Although Bendiner (they/them) doesn’t know why the bar was targeted, they suspect it could have to do with the fact that Rash is a popular spot for the LGBTQ+ community, the Washington Post reports. “There’s a decent chance that it’s because of that – that it’s a hate crime,” they said. 

Rash, which is co-owned by Bendiner and Jake Sillen, opened last October in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. 

The bar has started a GoFundMe page to help with expenses for those affected by the incident. So far, Rash has raised over $83K toward the recovery efforts. 

“We still don’t know what to make of this cruel act of violence. In only five short months we were privileged to become home to such a talented and vital community of artists,” a statement on the GoFundMe page reads. “It breaks our hearts that anyone would seek to threaten that for any reason.” 

An investigation into the incident is ongoing. Authorities have not yet identified a motive for the crime.


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