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Residents to council: Control violence at clubs

 

Kristin Mamrack

 

Residents Tuesday exhorted the Columbus City Council to better address issues of crime in the city. 

 

A resident of Columbus for more than 50 years, Dennis Long urged the council to close the Everyday Club and Lounge, located at 1603 Seventh Ave. N., following a deadly shooting April 20 at the nightclub, in which an unnamed suspect opened fire, killing one man and injuring three others. 

 

Quentin Antonio "Que" Spencer, 20, of 455 Merry Valley Drive in Columbus, was killed in the shooting. 

 

Noting "drug activity" and the club''s role in "contributing to the delinquency of minors," as well as its location in a neighborhood, Long also urged the council to adopt ordinances regulating such establishments. 

 

"Your failure to act in a responsible way makes you responsible for the young man''s death," he told the council, referring to Spencer, and explaining he visited the council, in the past, with similar complaints.  

 

Long said he contacted the state Attorney General''s Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the city''s Building Inspections Department and other agencies to see what action could be taken and offered to "provide financial support" for Spencer''s family to "file a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner (of the club) and the city." 

 

Columbus Mayor Robert Smith, who was out of town on city business and did not attend Tuesday''s council meeting, owns the building occupied by the club, but not the club. 

 

Local developer Chris Chain also expressed concern to the council. 

 

"I''m concerned about things happening in a downtown I helped rebuild," he said, referring to a weekend incident in which, he said, a fight from patrons in a nearby nightclub, Fuhgetaboutit, resulted in someone being thrown through the plate glass window at Huck''s Place.  

 

Police are still investigating the incident; Chain owns the building in which Huck''s Place is located. 

 

"What are our basic rights?" he asked. "I have worked hard to build this community into a Class 1-A community. What are the basic rights? If somebody is out on the streets and drunk, isn''t that reason to send them to jail? Why isn''t that happening?" 

 

Noting seven previous incidents of property damage at Huck''s Place, Chain suggested the police use golf carts to help patrol downtown Columbus. 

 

"What''s existing outside that business can''t happen," he said, referring to Fuhgetaboutit, which is owned by Freddie Fields. "If we, as citizens, don''t start taking over our streets, they''re going to take over us. People have to be responsible. 

 

"We don''t need this type of stuff happening downtown," he added, explaining he didn''t "care" what happened inside Field''s club, only outside of it. "We don''t need people scared to go home; they live there, too." 

 

"The way I feel about this is Huck''s is a bar, just as much as we are a bar," Fields said, this morning. "I''ve had my window broken out before, but the police can''t arrest someone unless they see it happen. We''re not responsible. Somebody has left Huck''s before and come by our place and done damage; it''s the same thing. 

 

"There are a lot of people downtown now that weren''t downtown before," he continued. "Everything that happens downtown is not Fuhgetaboutit''s fault. We try to clean up the town at night to make sure things don''t go on. We have just as much right to be there as anybody. We have police officers downtown and I''m sure they''re doing their job. We don''t have a problem downtown that I know of. I know there''s a lot of people and maybe people are drinking downtown, but they''re also drinking when they leave the (Columbus) Country Club. We''re running a clean, legal place." 

 

"I came to this council over a month ago," Long added Tuesday night, after Chain finished speaking. "I was ignored totally and now you''ve got a dead kid. That''s what''s going to happen downtown." 

 

The council took both matters under advisement. 

 

In another matter, the council unanimously voted to pay the city''s share of a required match to restore the historic Highway 82 bridge across the Tombigbee River. 

 

The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Monday voted to pay $133,333.33 -- a third of a 20 percent match on a $2 million Mississippi Department of Transportation grant -- to renovate the bridge into a pedestrian walkway. 

 

And the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau earlier agreed to pay a third of the required $400,000 match on the project. 

 

"I hope this council will take the same aggressive approach to address some of the same issues brought before us tonight," Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem said after the vote, referring to the citizens'' complaints of crime in Columbus.

 

 

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Reader Comments

Article Comment Leeroy commented at 5/5/2010 12:03:00 PM:

There was also a fight at "The Loft", which was still serving alcohol at 2am when the fight between 2 rednecks broke out. I am sure punk rednecks were responsible for the window being broken too. I can see them now, every hair on their head combed straight forward like they were standing in a wind tunnel backwards, wearing shirts 3 sizes too small. Posers. Jeezz I hate em.

 

Article Comment Columbus resident commented at 5/5/2010 12:41:00 PM:

The broken window is from idiots that are under 21 being drunk and coming from Fuhgetaboutit's or where ever they are walking from and landing on the sidewalk and fighting... this is not the first time the window has been broken at Huck's and not the first time it has been from kids under 21. So I don't think redneck's have alot to do with this issue.

 

Article Comment Schreech commented at 5/5/2010 1:02:00 PM:

I am from Starkville, so consider me an outsider to this issue. But, I find it rather ironic that a councilman and mayor, who were recently involved in a fight, be asked to assist in breaking up fights. Columbus, you have your hands full, and I hope that you get new people in office.

Let me get this right. The mayor (who just got arrested for assault) owns a building in which a kid got gunned down, yet he doesn't show up for the board meetings. In a democracy, it remains imperative for the correct people to be elected.

 

Article Comment yoreeL commented at 5/5/2010 1:03:00 PM:

I am sure punk thugs were responsible for the shootings at all the other clubs. I can see them now, big flat billed hats with the stickers still on them like they plan on returning them after a few uses, pants around there knees with their dirty ass boxers showing, t-shirts and fake gold chains that are both 3 sizes too big. Posers, geez I hate em.
I like how, out of all the crime in Columbus, they worry about a couple of downtown bars. If property is being destroyed then the police should have more of a presence. But, is a broken window really the biggest problem in Columbus? (no jokes about the broken window theory please)

 

Article Comment Just Me commented at 5/5/2010 1:38:00 PM:

I am afraid that the biggest problem lies in the lack of enough adequately trained Law Enforcement Officers. I understand the Columbus PD is seriously under staffed and underpaid. Most of the officers I see are setting in their car in the middle of the afternoon chilling out. Most of the problems in this town occur between 6:00 PM and 2:00 AM, maybe that shift should be enlarged. And maybe the Chief and the Assistant Chief and the Captains and Lieutenants need to get out of the office and take a look at what's happening to our community.

 

Article Comment Just Me commented at 5/5/2010 1:43:00 PM:

I over stated my position, Policing is not the biggest problem the hoodlums and drunks are. But the lack of adequate security downtown and around these Joints is a Police problem. And, Freddie Fields has always operated on the edge of the law, how in the name of heavens he qualified for a liquor license is strange to me.

 

Article Comment not alarmed commented at 5/5/2010 2:44:00 PM:

Why are we so gun-ho to land this at the feet of CPD? Given the best of situations and the most officers and the best schedule in which to operate that fleet of officers, it is probable that an officer would not be able to stop a bullet or a human being hurled through a window! When you have bars, you have problems. When you don't have bars, you don't have revenue. When you don't have revenue, you become a ghost town. And who the heck would want to live in Columbus if you take away the miniscule nightlife that there is now?

 

Article Comment what police? commented at 5/5/2010 3:38:00 PM:

The police presence in columbus is not adequate for the town. We should have police on bikes constantly riding around the 7th avenue area and downtown. Just the presence of police in these areas would do alot to deter crime. The police in columbus from what I have seen do no more then ride around and only get out if there is something to be had to eat.

 

Article Comment TD commented at 5/5/2010 5:21:00 PM:

Shootings, tossing people through windows .... (not to mention the mayor and councilman in a fight) what's next?

Let me ask a question -- Is Columbus still the "Friendly" City?

 

Article Comment randy commented at 5/5/2010 7:25:00 PM:

If we all stand up and demand better law enforcement and city leaders we might get some. Sitting on our butts and writing a @/&$ news paper is not going to get us anywhere! All the police and city are going to do is TALK ABOUT IT. Always have and always will. Money talks. Always has always will. End of story !

 

Article Comment can''ttakeit commented at 5/5/2010 7:34:00 PM:

WHY WOULD YOU EVER LET A 1/2 A$$ BAR BE PUT IN THE MIDDLE OF MARKET STREET ? WHO SIGNED OFF ON THIS ? DOES THE MAYOR OWN THIS BUILDING ? CAN WE NOT CUT THE DRINKING HOURS BACK. OH ! THEY JUST EXTENDED THEM. WHO VOTED FOR THAT. THANKS MR BOX FOR YOUR "NO" VOTE. YOU DID STAND UP FOR WHAT WAS RIGHT. I KEEP HEARING ABOUT THE SAME BARS AND THAT THE POLICE KNOW WHERE ALL THE "ACTION" IS BUT IT STILL GOES ON . WHY DON'T WE ASK WHY ???

 

Article Comment frankiebird commented at 5/5/2010 11:55:00 PM:

what police? ~ If I were a police officer, there is not enough money in Columbus, Mississippi, to pay me to ride a bicycle and patrol 7th Avenue! Maybe downtown, but not 7th Avenue!
Fuhgetaboutit ~ In my opinion, a ridiculous name. The bar is a blemish on downtown. It looks like a "thug bar" on a street with nice restaurants, shops, etc. It is just a misfit. The black curtains are never hanging straight which is unattractive as you look in from the street and the beer posters in the windows are trashy looking. It may be nice on inside, but it is lacking something ~ I guess I would use the word "class." I think it would fit in better on Highway 45 North towards the Monroe County line. There are several bars in that area that I would consider comparable to Fuhgetaboutit. I don't have a problem with a bar being in that location, but I am not impressed with Fuhgetaboutit.

 

Article Comment Stan commented at 5/6/2010 6:07:00 AM:

The bar nor the police is the problem. The problem is mommas and daddies to whip the crap out of their children when they do something that requires discipline. When I was a chap, there were bars, but very seldom did they need policing. If I acted like some of the young bar goers do these days, my daddy would have whooped my butt.

 

Article Comment bully11 commented at 5/6/2010 7:07:00 AM:

Nothing like seeing all the problems of Columbus blamed on the Police Officers. The city will only pay for 8 officers to work at night and 7 during the day. Get some of your friends and see if you could patrol this entire town with such few people. Besides all the babysitting calls and parenting skills that the officers have to perform everyday, now they are responsible for everything that happens in the bars. Excuse me, I have to run go check on someones kid who will not listen to their mother. Can I borrow a BELT!!

 

Article Comment tom commented at 5/6/2010 11:56:00 AM:

Ok, here we go picking on the police again! Thank you Bully11 for your statement. I really would like to see some of the these smart ass people that write on this blog do a better job of patroling columbus. My husband is a police officer and it never ceases to amaze me at the plain old bull crap he has to deal with on a daily basis. Calls like, "will you go check on my mama, she wont answer the phone." and "I can't get my 11 year old son to get up and go to school." and "someone stole my car radio two weeks ago"!!! And he goes to all of that because in case some of you didn't know Police Officers are PUBLIC SERVANTS!!! He goes and answers all of his calls with a smile on his face because he truly loves his job and I will assure you that he doesn't do it for the food because most days he doesn't even take a lunch break. But yet you loud mouths want the police to perform miracles. I'm sorry but only Jesus can do that and even He has his hands full with this town!!!

 

Article Comment not alarmed commented at 5/6/2010 12:20:00 PM:

Good post tom...there is so much tension in this town you can cut it with a knife....blame that on a lack of values, morals, even leadership, not those whose job it is to protect and serve....they really have their hands full.

 

Article Comment barbrawler commented at 5/6/2010 6:55:00 PM:

The city of columbus has a problem on its hands, and a very serious one at that. The problem of columbus lays within the types of people whom visit these establishments. The problem with these bars can be solved with many different tactics. Tom, I agree with you that your husband does his job well, and gets dumb calls during his shift. I visit these bars and have walked into them seeing the chief of police drinking in these establishments as well. I have also seen patrol officers outside of these establishments flirting with girls and talking BS with patrons. The presence of these officers are nice but they are also distracted as well. Allowing more patrols at night would help alliviate the problem of dumb calls, but would also add more officers to the chit chatting outside of the bar. waiting on an individual to get into his car and drive away and arrest them for DUI which is against the law which is called entrapment. What really needs to happen is for the bar owner to hire more security for outside the bar. Forgetaboutit (which is a completely retarded name) needs to hire more professional security they have the fighter worm but he cannot control all the riff raff that comes through that place. But this is what happens when you have a bar open to 18 year olds that have never been home trained. You get stupidity.

 

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