Thursday, August 5, 2010

Is Club Crucial Being Targeted?

Last night Fox 5 reported that T.I.'s Club Crucial was facing suspension of their liquor license and a $50,000 fine for violating Chapter 10 (10-109 (a)(12) and (a)(14) to be exact) of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta. The code states that the city has the power to revoke, suspend or refuse a liquor license to any business that fails to "adequately supervise and monitor the conduct of the employees, patrons and others" on the premises. In layman terms, the city is looking to suspend Crucial's liquor license because they feel that the club has too many fights and is a violent establishment.

Club Crucial is located on the infamous Bankhead Highway (which is now named Donald Lee Hollowell), so a stigma has always been attached to this club. But anybody that's gone there before will tell you that this is a fine establishment that just so happens to be in the middle of the 'hood.

The City of Atlanta is citing six incidents over the last year as reason for their wanting to suspend Crucial's license and ultimately, cripple their business. I have the incident reports below...

These are from January 2010 and November 2009

September 2009

June 2009

June 2009

May 2009

February 2009

If you read the incident reports, you will notice that all of these situations were pretty much handled by Club Crucial security (which includes 15 private security officer, 4 off-duty APD officers outside 2 Sherrif's officers doing patdowns at the door and 22 security cameras inside). Club Crucial security essentially handles the altercations themselves, and if the people don't calm down or leave, they have them arrested. Also of note is that it's rare that these incidents start because of something that happened inside the club that night. My sources (and just from being there enough times and being in the know) people have a problem with each other from some personal and family issues. People aren't in there fighting because somebody stepped on their shoe or looked at them funny.

Also, in the incident reports you will see that none of these altercations involved weapons, shootings, stabbing, hospitalization or death. You don't even see anything about a broken bottle because Crucial pours all of their drinks inside of plastic cups, including beers. Just for that reason alone. Beyond that, there is a general sense of respect that the club commands. Its owners and staff are respected figures in the community, and people in the neighborhood appreciate them being there, so they are on their best behavior for the most part.

On the flipside of this, there are a number of other nightclubs in Atlanta who have incident sheets that trump Crucial's. And these are supposed to be the more upscale establishments. For example...

Here is Luckie Lounge's sheet:

Luckie Lounge is easily one of the more popular clubs in Atlanta and have become notorious for their dress codes (and overzealous security). As you can see from this sheet of crimes reported that include Aggravated Assault, Burglary, Larceny, Larceny from Vehicle and Auto Theft. Some of these events you've read about on your favorite Hip Hop sites.

Here is Club Opera's sheet:

Again, a long list of Aggravated Assault, Larceny, Larceny from Vehicle and Auto-Theft at an "upscale" club. Again you might have read about some of these events on your favorite sites. Unlike Crucial's incidents, some of the incidents on Luckie and Opera's sheets involved weapons and people being hospitalized.

Beyond these two establishments, two murders have happened at other Atlanta nightclubs including The Masquerade and strip club Foxy Lady. None of these establishments have been threatened by the city with fines or license suspensions.

This is where I ask: Is Club Crucial Being Targeted?

It sure does seem that way. One reason is because of the city's efforts to "clean up" certain parts of town. As we all know, gentrification has been going on in every major city for decades now. As far as Atlanta is concerned, it has been in full effect since the Olympics when they cleaned out Techwood Homes to make way for Olympic athlete housing that was later turned into housing for Georgia State and Georgia Tech students.

Over the last few years the process has been sped up as we see some of the housing communities that gave Atlanta its identity (both notable and notorious) disappear. Bankhead is the latest on the list of communities to be stripped and gutted as Bowen Homes, Hollywood Courts, Bankhead Courts and other communities have been shutdown and bulldozed. The area is practically being primed for new homes and business to be built for people who aren't of the community.

If you follow, you will see that in communities like this, the property value drops while the property tax rises. Which discourages certain people from buying up the properties and encourages certain others to swoop in and get it. My sources tell me that in fact, currently, nobody is allowed to buy properties or start new business on Bankhead right now. To this journalist, that sounds like somebody doesn't want the people living there to build anything for themselves and would rather for the area to become even more rundown than it already is to the point that the people start to leave (or get forced out) so that new ones can come in and take over.

After years of carrying a bad reputation, some may wonder why the city has set its sights on Bankhead? Bankhead Highway is the only strip of highway that connects the more affluent Cobb County directly to Downtown Atlanta. Thus, Bankhead has become an important strip in Atlanta's growth plans.

Establishments like Crucial are viewed as a threat to those plans. Even with thousands of Bankhead citizens being erased from the community, many of them still return every week just to go to Club Crucial. It's one of the last places standing, it's one the last landmarks of many of these people's lives, so of course they "come home." As long as "these people" continue to be in the area, people with new interests in the Bankhead area will not be so quick to move in.

Another alarm is that Crucial was notified of the city's intentions in February 2010:

Crucial hasn't been able to properly represent themselves in front of the board since then and were practically attacked out of nowhere with last nights decision.

As of now, Crucial is still in operation, so do not believe the rumors that they are shut down. Their liquor license has not been suspended, yet. The motion has to be passed by Mayor Kasim Reed. This case will be presented to him sometimes in the next ten days. I am posting this information hoping that it will spread awareness and hopefully get into his ear so that he doesn't sign and stamp it without knowing what is going on.

In the event that Mayor Reed does sign off on this, Crucial can take the case to the Supreme Court and stay in business in the meantime of the case being investigated.

What do you guys think? Do you care? Does it matter to you?

Even if you aren't from Bankhead and never been to or plan on going to Club Crucial, I felt it was important to share this story so that you can tell others who may care. Or even to find a way to apply the information in this story to your daily operation. I saw alot of negative things being said about Crucial after this story broke, which I thought was unfair. To say that a place deserves to be shut down because "they ghetto" is not fair. If you don't like it, don't go. Keep going to your dress code clubs and risk getting shot and stabbed. Let the "ghetto" people have their fun. Don't wish that a place that actually serves the community gets shut down because "they ghetto."

Things are changing around us everyday by the minute. Just make sure you are prepared.


Spree Wilson said...

Great Story Mo! It's just one in a long list of things in the ever growing cultural displacement of Atlanta. Gentrifying, yet wiping away everything that made Atlanta such a one of a kind, soulful city.

Nadine G. said...

Wow. I haven't been to Bankhead since the Bounce was over there... Too far from the Eastside. But I always did have the desire to hit Crucial, may have to be sooner than later now.

Hopefully, Mayor Reed'll see what it is and decide accordingly. I didn't even know, until recently, that Bankhead was that CLOSE to Cobb. That shit is sad. Tryna push folk out and to go as far as telling people that can't start businesses... SMH.

Well-written Maurice.

Dom Brady said...

Fine reporting.

rAND said...

Top notch Journalism

Nick said...

wow, good read bro......i also will try to spread this story around......funny opera, luckie are right around my job.....they have very "light skin" nites too, lol.....they won't get the same treatment as crucial!

Yaminah said...

This is a great article Maurice.

Jesse said...

great job comparing the crime incidents of other clubs.

Knotts said...

Investigative reporting that matters. Great stuff! I 'll be sharing with more people as well.

soul searcher said...

well thought out and researched post, bro

you might want to add contact info for mayor reed so that people who are moved to write in to support club crucial can do so.

Shannon said...

This is a fine example of investigative journalism with astute observations from someone who not only knows hip-hop, but the city of Atlanta, inside out. I am thoroughly impressed and proud to be in the company of talented individuals like you. Thank you.

Tela Hubbard said...

Yes this is a really great article. And I hate how dumb they think we are. We have to build stronger communities before they displace us all and any idea or sense of oneself we have dissapears. We are easier to control when we have nothing to fight for. said...

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Anonymous said...

Great article and journalism!

Kid Captain Coolout said...

Is Crucial being targeted? could answer that one without the investigation. Once the city starts going after an establishment it's pretty much a wrap. I still admire your background checks to prove your position and I hate to say it but, they can hang this one up. There aint a petition on this planet that can save em.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for Opera, but I know for a fact that Luckie is walking on thin ice.

Stacey Day said...

Great article! But when I saw the headlines about a $50,000 fine being reported, I was surprised since I know of many similar situations where the fines have been much smaller.

So I did my own investigation, and according to the minutes from the License & Review Board meeting the fine is $5,000. Here's the link..