Allen Roskoff is AKA William’s Political Director and columnist. Every week Allen brings us the best, the worst, and the unbelievable in LGBT news and politics.
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The ongoing effort to eradicate any remaining gay presence on Christopher Street is now targeting the Chi Chiz Restaurant and Bar, at 135 Christopher Street. Chi Chiz has been there for twelve years and along the way it has become a haven for LGBT people of color. It’s a respectable business, run by two dedicated members of our community. It is one of the few establishments catering to people of color in our community in the Village area. One would think the community and Sixth Precinct would treat Chi Chiz with decency and civility, but nothing could be further from the truth.
A few weeks ago, on a Friday evening, the NYPD shut Chi Chiz down. Activists and attorneys rallied behind Chi Chiz and its owners and were successful in reopening the bar for business on Saturday night. NYPD’s Sixth Precinct was not happy but that is just too bad. Chi Chiz was shut down based upon four alleged drug sales in the premises over the course of the past year. As any responsible owners would do, Chi Chiz has security at the front door, security roaming around the club, as well as a bathroom attendant. The owners do everything possible to keep out anyone involved in the drug scene. However, no matter how responsible an owner is, they cannot guarantee 100% of the time that nefarious types who engage in illegal behavior will not get in and do what they will do. It’s part of nightlife and our general society. If they can’t keep drugs out of prisons how can they be kept out of bars? I’ve gone to concerts at Madison Square Garden and have seen people using drugs. I even see people at formal dinners snorting coke. As one judge told me, when the police start invading and closing places like the Ganesvoort Hotel and SOHO House for drugs then they can come close gay bars, but not before. Just as Macy’s shouldn’t be closed because pick pockets and shoplifters operate in their premises, Chi Chiz and other centers of Gay night life shouldn’t be closed because despite their due diligence, someone comes in and engages in unlawful conduct.
Let’s just face it; by and large the police hate us. And what of GOAL (Gay Officers Action Alliance)? They are useless – totally useless. 100 Blacks In Law Enforcement Who Care, a black fraternal organization which was headed by now State Senator Eric Adams, were vocal and often demonstrated for the black community when blacks were mistreated by the police. They demanded justice and that the police department be responsive to the needs of the black community. GOAL is nowhere to be found. The LGBT community’s bar gets targeted and GOAL is silent. They do nothing for our community, zero.
Chi Chiz is being targeted because it is a gay bar with an African-American clientele. The Sixth Precinct is condoning and in effect “resettling” undesirables such as gay black men from our historic home, Christopher Street (“resettling” – where have we heard that before). David Poster, the 72-year-old president of the Christopher Street Patrol has been at the forefront of the fight to rid Christopher Street of people of color for many years. Several years ago he fought to have the liquor license of Two Potato revoked. Mostly black people also frequented Two Potato. The issues revolve around the issue of race, sexual orientation and class. As the late gay activist Bob Kohler is quoted as saying: “They don’t want black faces on the street.”
Sexual orientation should not be an issue at a drug treatment center. Whatever your preferences, you need to be treated with the same amount of care and respect accorded to other patients.
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