by Kyle Swenson
So the Warehouse District — where Scene’s office happens to be located — is pretty much downtown’s little gem, a pinprink of uber condos, swank eateries and nightclubs amid all that other stalled development; it’s kind of like the west bank of the Flats, before it went to shit, or the east bank of the Flats, before it went to shit.
Well, city officials are obviously terrified the moneymaking district might sink into a fate similar to those erstwhile hot spots; as anyone who’s hung around long enough on a Friday or Saturday night can tell you, the area around West 9th and West 6th afterhours is basically a full-on police state. City officials have justified the escalated police presence by noting the number of liquored-up patrons drawn to the neighborhood every weekend, a sure recipe for trouble or worse, they say.
Recently, however, community leaders have lobbed accusations at the police and city, alleging the cops are unfairly targeting blacks and other minorities. A lot of the trouble has centered on a single nightclub, well-known bootyshaker Lust. Owner Joseph Carey has alleged the city was trying to get his business out of the neighborhood and that police pay unfair attention to his mostly black clientele. NAACP President George Forbes quickly took up the issue, asking for a face-to-face with Mayor Frank Jackson to resolve the apparent prejudicial behavior.
According to the Plain Dealer, that meeting took place on Monday; the two came to an agreement:
Jackson said he will continue a heavy police presence near the Lust nightclub on Saturday and Sunday mornings so patrons will feel safe.
He also said he will accept Forbes' suggestion to bring in officials from a federal prosecutor's office to improve business owners' and employees' awareness of anti-discrimination laws. Such training would enable bar owners to properly intervene with patrons before police need to become involved.
The whole idea of having anti-discrimination training seems like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound; a fluffy response to a real problem. Hopefully it will help. What won’t likely stop soon is the wild ways of Warehouse District patrons. Case in point: this latest West 6th controversy has given us another round of a local newsroom staple: the live-on-the-scene report, when the station sends some brave newsie to stand on a street corner and gape as the youngins openly flirt with anarchy. Although this brand of "embedded" coverage is usually mundane to the point of hilarity, this WKYC report actually did mine some salacious gold that points to the need of a police presence in the first place: at one point the frontline crew captures a pretty horrible beat down, four or five white guys going to town on some poor smuck. A vicious eye-opener.