Very soon there will be a new Mayor and a new Police Commissioner and possibly a quantum change in the way the city and the Police Department conduct business. For many the change from Bloomberg to De Blasio can’t happen fast enough. From my point of view, the biggest issue with the NYPD is their wanton disregard for due process in regards to nightclubs and bars and such. If a local police captain has it in for a joint, then that joint will be targeted and harassed out of business or to the brink. The favorite tactic of the police was to shutter clubs like Pacha because drug dealers are busted inside. This culminated in a big case. I sat in a courtroom and heard how undercover cops set up buys with drug dealers in the club and then blamed the club for the transactions. Pacha won and is thriving, despite efforts to close it down. The police would go to court prior to this case and get an order to close it as a danger to the community. They would execute this order on a Friday after the courts were closed. The club couldn’t open until a judge rescinded the order on Monday. The club lost its weekend revenues. Hundreds of employees lost their pay. Talent – sometimes international – was cancelled. The cops had acted and penalized the club without due process, without the judgment of a court. The penalties amounted to hundreds of thousands of dollars. They did it during Gay Pride Weekend. The cops seem to think that they are above the law. This is the legacy of Bloomberg/Kelly gang. This is typical of the heavy-handed elitist administration that all worthy candidates tried to distance themselves from this past election. Bill de Blasio won because he said there is something fundamentally wrong with this administration. Racism is recognized by most to be at the core of the stop and frisk policies – policies that will soon be adjusted.
Racism by the police seems to be at the core of its actions towards the club Greenhouse. There are lots of pending court cases and litigations from citizens, so getting answers to questions proved difficult, but I snooped around and got this:
The club is under constant police harassment. On any given night there are a minimum of two police cars stationed outside of the clubs, and several officers as well. The club is told to notify the NYPD the moment any celebrity walks into the building. They are the most strictly managed nightclubs in NYC, no exceptions. Occupancy regulations commonly ignored throughout town are enforced, IDs are strictly checked – those under 24 require two forms of identification.
An employee told me there are “No people doing drugs, people smoking, people trying to steal items… these type of things never happen here, we are so strict it is like going into an airport and the general public knows how strict we are, and that they can not get away with things like that here.”
The police presence is so strong. They walk through the venue several time a week and do inspections to the point where patrons and customers and employees do not want to come to the club anymore. They also have lost countless nights and events and sales due to shut downs.
The problem was made worse by the famous fight between two famous hip hop artists – a front page brawl between Drake and Chris Brown brought more heat than I have ever seen. I asked Barry Mullineaux, co-owner of Greenhouse and W.I.P (the sister club within the club) to tell me about the results of that fights.
“It’s one thing to be strict which we do and do well, but then we have the matter of over-policing, which really scares off and deters people from ever coming back. We comply with all the NYPD and court requests and work diligently to abide by all rules and recommendations. However at certain times it becomes impossible to operate: for example last week I came from a dinner around 12 a.m., there were about 10 police officers stationed outside, they asked me for my ID and liquor license, they were writing me up for a ticket for over-crowding. I explained that I hadn’t even been inside yet, but I was put in handcuffs and arrested. They let me go after a few hours in the precinct and wrote a summons for over crowding. This arrest was in front of employees and large crowd in line, including several celebrities Nicole Murphy, Jermaine Dupri. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
We have had our share of tough roads, as any business would endure. Yes the fight between Drake and Chris Brown has affected our business tremendously. The city put incredible pressure on us when the bad news went worldwide, and we have had to battle numerous courts cases and legal matters. We have also had numerous lawsuits started against us from this night. We have had various stipulations placed upon us such as we do full searching of all patrons and employees. We have strict ID policies.
We have no problem working with the city and NYPD to be compliant and to follow any rules, but at the same time we want a fair chance to conduct business. We have over 100 employees depending on their jobs to pay their bills and feed their families. The constant problems we have gone through its not just about the ownership and investors and managers – it affects all the employees.”
There seems to be an unequal share of policing and harassment happening here. Three nights a week Greenhouse brings in an urban crowd, and the neighborhood the club is in is strictly white bread. I believe that the problems the club has are as simple as that. Sure there was a big fight. Most clubs have them. There was big one down the road at another venue that very night involving a bunch of white folks, but it didn’t get the press or scare the neighborhood. I don’t go to Greenhouse events on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The “industry” events don’t interest me, but I believe they have a right to exist and the fact that they pack out proves that many others agree. Who is objecting? Obviously residents who don’t want that element in their backyard and the police who are obviously being pressured to do something about it. This stinks. Sure Greenhouse is an imperfect venue but the crime and punishment should be handled in a court with a judge, and not decided and acted upon by the police. There are no nearby neighbors this close to the Holland Tunnel club. Who are they hurting? What are the real reasons for this enforcement?