Center City bar announces changes after Eric Pope's death

Tabu said it waited to release a statement in order to communicate concrete, actionable items.

6abc Digital Staff Image
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Action News at 5:30am - May 25, 2022
Action News at 5:30am - May 25, 2022

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Center City Philadelphia bar has announced changes after the death of Eric Pope last month including the hiring of its own security manager.

In a statement posted to social media on Tuesday, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar said the security manager, who was not identified, has been a mainstay in the Gayborhood for over a decade.

"(The manager) will be responsible for overseeing the safety of our customers and staff," the statement read.

Eric Pope

Tabu, located on the 200 block of South 12th Street, is also in the process of hiring additional employees who the bar said are "trained and certified in accordance with all city requirements."

"(We) hope these candidates include members of the LGBTQIA+ community," Tabu said.

All Tabu employees, including management, will undergo further de-escalation and LGBTQIA+ awareness and sensitivity training, according to the statement.

It was on April 16 when police said Pope, 41, was escorted out of Tabu for being intoxicated. Investigators said the bouncer, 24-year-old Kenneth Frye of Philadelphia, then punched him, in a scene that unfolded on surveillance video.

"I just can't fathom anyone hurting him because he's so good, so helpful and so honest. It's just difficult," said the family member of 41-year-old Eric Pope.

Pope fell to the ground and died from his injuries, which included trauma to the brain, at the hospital days after the incident.

Tabu said the bouncer was not an employee of the bar. Action News learned he worked for a private security company.

Frye surrendered to police on April 28 and was charged with third-degree murder.

Kenneth Frye

In the wake of Pope's death, the community demanded answers, including activists from the LGBTQ community who gathered outside the bar after the deadly incident.

Action News spoke to Pope's aunt Bunny Conceiceo who said her nephew was "so good, so helpful and so honest."

"He cared about people, helped people. He was a school committee member for many years, and anybody that needed anything he was there to help them," said Conceiceo.

In the statement, Tabu staff offered sympathies to the family and friends of Pope. They said the bar will continue to "strive to do better for the community."

"As we move forward and in the most respectful manner possible for Eric's family and his memory, we will continue to engage the community in efforts to focus on anti-violence," Tabu said.

Tabu said it waited to release a statement in order to communicate concrete, actionable items rather than speaking in generalities.

According to the statement, its staff has been meeting with community leaders and listening to feedback from the neighborhood.

"We took time as a staff to focus on re-imagining our venue as a safe space. The LGBTQIA+ community has every right to come to Tabu and feel safe and protected," the statement read.