Club owners feel pressure by city|
By Chauncey Bailey , STAFF WRITER
OAKLAND -- A sign on the front door at Sweet Jimmie's Entertainment Complex reads: "Due To Pressure From the City... No Baggy Pants Or Tennis Shoes."
City officials were prepared to take away the popular nightclub's cabaret permit because of four incidents last year involving young people and the police. However, a hearing on the issue last Friday was canceled at the last minute, as Jimmie's supporters were gathering at the club -- near 17th Street and San Pablo Avenue -- for a march to City Hall.
"The police chief wants to meet with Jimmie's to see if this (issue) can be resolved," said Larry Carroll, an administrator with the City Manager's Office and the Citizens Police Review Board. "I think this can be handled."
Police Chief Richard Word, who asked that Friday's meeting be canceled, said Tuesday he will meet with club owners next week.
The planned hearing angered many African Americans who said the club was being unfairly targeted, and too many other black-owned night spots -- including the Oak Tree, Bluesville and the Bird Kage -- have already shut down.
Last year, the city's 105th homicide occurred near the Bird Kage, 4822 Telegraph Ave. Neighbors complained parties that were supposed to draw 100 people drew hundreds more; some patrons were urinating on private property nearby; and residents found the club to be a nuisance.
Other black-owned night clubs have attracted the hip-hop generation after advertising on KMEL-Radio (106.7 FM), a popular rap music radio station, and often times parties have appealed to persons who would normally attend "sideshows," street parties in which motorists perform stunts with their vehicles.Paying police overtime
In past years, clubs attracting large crowds were ordered to pay police overtime when there were traffic problems or confrontations between officers and young people.
Supporters of Jimmie's said owner Jimmie Ward is being targeted because the area where the club is located is being considered for housing and Ward turned down the city's offer to buy his property, saying it was inadequate. A nearby arts supply store has closed after it was sold to the city.
During a meeting several weeks ago at Jimmie's between his lawyers, George Holland and Ignascio Camarena, and longtime club patrons, there were passionate speeches about how the club has been safe and an asset to the community.Private security
Ward has said he has hired private security and off-duty Oakland police officers and "we should not be held responsible for what happens outside or down the street."
Ed Dillard, president of Oakland Black Board of Trade and Commerce, said his organization was outraged to learn Sweet Jimmie's was being targeted. "Blacks own so little downtown and Sweet Jimmie's is an institution in entertainment," he said.This story appears in the Feb 12 edition of the Oakland Tribune