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Monday, February 21, 2011

City Targets Cabaret, Says Strip Club is a Danger to Public Safety

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM

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Cabaret Lounge has occupied the ever-turbulent corner of 5th and West Burnside since 2004. But over the past two years, the city and Oregon Liquor Control Commission have targeted the strip club, saying it's a danger to public safety that consistently violates liquor laws. On Valentine's Day this month, the OLCC finally served Cabaret its final papers: a notice of proposed liquor license cancellation.

Portland Police and liquor inspectors documented an astounding 36 serious violent or criminal incidents in 26 months at Cabaret, plus an additional eight liquor law violations like having unlicensed servers and even (on August 22nd, 2008) having a licensed server "engaged in prostitution on the premises." OLCC records reveal that the city first tried to pull Cabaret's liquor license in September 2008. City representatives met with Cabaret's owner and lawyer and tried to hash out an "abatement plan" for the constant problems at Cabaret, but lawyer Brett Hall complained that the terms were "unreasonable." The OLCC terminated the club's license a year later, but Cabaret appealed the decision and received a stay.

Cabaret's saga makes an interesting (read: juicy, cocaine-filled) case study into what the city and police consider "problem bars." For all the criticisms of the agency over-regulating bars, the OLCC doesn't often permanently cancel liquor licenses: it only nixed nine statewide last year. And the city of Portland doesn't regularly target bars' liquor licenses, either. In the past year, the police have only requested the OLCC not renew the license of four bars because they have a history of "serious and persistent problems": Cabaret Lounge, Club Gossip (at 11340 NE Halsey), The 720 Room (at 7th and Hawthorne), and Club 915 (where two people died).

So how bad is Cabaret? Read the list of documented problems below the cut.

State legislators are proposing a new law that would allow police to immediately shut down bars for 72 hours if they think they're a public safety risk, rather than going through the rigmarole of asking the OLCC to cancel their license. If that law was on the books already, the Portland Police could have shut down Cabaret repeatedly for some of these incidents.

Here's the whole list of 36 serious incidents. A surprising number involve security guards who seemed to escalate the violent situations themselves.

On August 24, 2008 at about 12:43 AM, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers responded to the premises regarding a person lying down on the sidewalk. After a very intoxicated patron was asked to leave the premises, he became angry, started yelling, and threw an iPod at a security employee. The employee escorted the patron out of the premises and gave the patron a push. The patron fell to the ground and received a laceration on the back of his head.

On August 24, 2008 at about 9:14 PM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a fight. A security employee asked a patron to leave the premises after the patron jumped on stage and exposed his penis. The patron began shouting and throwing items at the security employee. Five other patrons began throwing glasses, candles, stools, chairs, and tables and broke several windows and mirrors and a table inside the premises. A security employee had minor injuries from being hit by a table.

On September 20, 2008 at about 12:05 AM, a patron left his camera at the bar. When he later tried to retrieve the camera, it was missing.

On October 4, 2008 at about 1:45 AM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a vandalism. Security employees removed a patron from the premises for being “grabby” with the dancers. The patron threw a rock through a window of the premises, breaking the window and causing broken glass to enter the premises. Employees chased the patron and detained him after the patron had been pepper-sprayed. The patron was charged with Criminal Mischief II and Reckless Endangering.

October 8, 2008 at about 1:00 AM, a patron’s purse was stolen. The purse contained $850 in cash, car and house keys, and the Social Security cards of the patron’s five children, and miscellaneous identification and paperwork.

On December 11, 2008 at about 1:45 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding an assault. An intoxicated patron pushed a security employee after the security employee asked the patron to leave the premises. The patron struck the security employee several times and the employee punched the patron with a closed fist. The patron was bleeding from his nose and had blood on his clothing and hands. The patron was taken to a detoxification facility.

On January 4, 2009 at about 2:15 AM, PPB officers responded to a private residence regarding an assault at the licensed premises. At closing time, security employees asked patrons to exit through a side door. After the patron asked a bartender where the side door was, a security employee asked the patron if he was “talkin’ shit” and pushed the patron several times. The patron informed the security employee he had previous back and knee injuries and to stop pushing. The security employee punched the patron in the face. The officers observed blood on the bridge of the patron’s nose, a cut to the brow line above his right eye, and swelling the size of a golf ball on his brow area.

On January 12, 2009 at about 12:40 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a fight. An extremely intoxicated patron attempted to enter the premises after he had been asked to leave earlier in the evening because of his behavior and intoxication. The intoxicated patron was bleeding heavily from his face, had a cut to his mouth that medics said would require sutures, and had a swollen eye after being beaten up by another patron. The security employee called the police after the intoxicated patron tried to initiate another fight with a patron that the officer observed leaving the premises. The patron leaving the premises admitted to fighting with the other patron and had bloody knuckles and abrasions on his forehead and face and was visibly intoxicated.

On February 4, 2009 at about 2:33 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding an assault. At closing time, a bartender took a patron’s beer and poured it out. When the patron complained, a security employee grabbed the patron in a headlock and moved him outside the premises.

On February 12, 2009 at about 11:38 PM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a disturbance. A very intoxicated patron grabbed a dancer’s vagina inside the premises. She pushed the intoxicated patron away but he stepped towards her and head butted her on the forehead, which knocked her to the floor. Security employees removed the patron from the premises. The intoxicated patron was arrested for Assault IV and Sex Abuse III.

On February 17, 2009 at about 1:36 AM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a fight. A patron and a dancer fought. The patron pulled the dancer’s hair and the dancer kicked the patron in the face. Two other patrons tried to intervene and struck a security employee in the face with a pint glass, causing redness and swelling under the employee’s right eye. Another security employee was hit in the face with a bottle and suffered swelling to his cheek bone area and a small cut to his right palm. The patrons threw bottles and candle holders. Two other dancers took a patron to the ground, punched him, and struck him with a glass object. One of the dancers received a two inch scratch on her arm. One of the patrons who attempted to intervene was hit on the head with a ketchup bottle and had multiple abrasions and swelling on his forehead. One patron was arrested for Assault IV.

On February 22, 2009 at about 2:33 AM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a patron who had been pepper sprayed by security employees at the premises. An intoxicated patron left the premises but remembered he had left his identification card with a dancer. He knocked on a door to the premises and when the door opened he was pepper sprayed. Employees said the intoxicated patron grabbed an employee by the shirt and threatened to kill him.

On February 23, 2009 at about 11:00 PM, a patron stood at the open door and began yelling at an employee and asked the employee to step outside to fight. The patron then harassed and threatened people walking along the sidewalk, including calling a black person a racially derogatory term. The patron climbed the fire escape to the roof of an adjacent building. PPB officers arrested him for Disorderly Conduct II.

On March 8, 2009 at about 12:30 AM, two dancers were told the leave the premises for throwing glasses at another employee.

On March 8, 2009 at about 12:52 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a patron who was pepper sprayed by a security employee at the premises. The patron was arguing with an employee outside the premises when a security employee pepper sprayed her in the face. The patron’s face was red and her eyes were very red and appeared irritated. An employee was arrested for Unlawful Use of Mace II.

On April 3, 2009 at about 1:32 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding an assault. A patron argued with a security employee after he was removed from the premises for fighting inside the premises. The security employee he was arguing with struck him with a flashlight which caused reddening of the skin on the patron’s neck.

On April 4, 2009 at about 1:53 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a patron threatening security employees with a knife. Security employees found an extremely intoxicated patron in the restroom selling cocaine. After the employees removed the patron from the premises, the patron pulled out a folding knife, extended the blade, and threatened to kill the employees. The patron continued to display the knife while pounding on the front door of the premises. A security employee assaulted the patron, causing bleeding injuries to the patron’s head and the bridge of his nose. Officers tasered the patron and arrested him for Menacing and Disorderly Conduct II.

On June 19, 2009 at about 1:24 AM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a fight. A visibly intoxicated patron took a swing at a security employee when security employees attempted to escort another patron from the premises. Security employees took the intoxicated patron to the ground. The intoxicated patron complained of neck and head pain and a heart condition and was transported to the hospital.

On June 25, 2009 at about 10:53 PM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding several people fighting. Two patrons, one of whom was intoxicated, insulted three patrons as they left the premises. The three patrons fought with the two patrons, causing one to have a bleeding lip and nose and the other fall back into the street and have a bleeding gash on the back of his head and bleeding to his frontal lobe that was likely to result in permanent changes to his personality. The three patrons attempted to kick the patron who was down in the street. Two of the three patrons who were leaving the premises were intoxicated and were arrested for Disorderly Conduct II and Assault III. One of the three patrons was released and could not be located when the officers decided he should also be arrested for punching the patron who fell into the street.

On July 6, 2009 at about 9:00 PM, a patron’s debit card was stolen inside the premises. Fraudulent charges were subsequently made against the debit card.

On September 30, 2009 at about 1:48 AM, a PPB officer responded to the area of NE Grand and NE Couch Street regarding a traffic crash. The driver was intoxicated and admitted to consuming four beers at the premises before driving and crashing into a parked vehicle. The driver blew a .18% BAC and was arrested for Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants (DUII). During the jail inventory, an officer discovered nine plastic baggies of cocaine in the driver’s waistband.

On November 19, 2009 at about 8:20 PM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a fight. A security employee was escorting a patron from the premises when the patron pushed the employee, refused to leave, threatened to kill the employee, and advanced on the employee with a hand raised in the air. The employee grabbed the patron and pushed him outside of the premises where the patron struggled violently, causing the patron and employee to fall to the sidewalk. The patron was arrested for Trespass II and Menacing.

On November 19, 2009 at about 8:55 PM, a patron was asked to leave for harassing dancers.

On November 19, 2009 at about 11:51 PM, a patron started an altercation with an employee. The patron was asked to leave several times before an employee carried her from the premises. When the patron was set down outside, another employee pushed the patron from the back, causing her to fall onto the pavement. The patron had bruises to her elbow, both knees, and her left side torso and an abrasion on her foot. An officer observed the patron, who appeared to be intoxicated, push a premises employee and the employee push her back. The patron then swung at the employee.

On November 20, 2009 at about 12:45 AM, two patrons were asked to leave for arguing. One of the patrons was 86ed for continuing to argue with an employee.

On November 20, 2009 at about 1:30 AM, a security employee removed a patron from the premises after the patron rubbed a dancer’s crotch.

On November 20, 2009 at about 1:31 AM, a security employee removed a patron from the premises after the patron lit a cigarette inside the premises. The employee noticed the patron had cocaine on and in his nose.

On November 24, 2009 at about 6:02 PM, PPB officers responded to the premises regarding a security employee restraining a person who had threatened him with a knife. The employee found the person lying on the sidewalk outside the premises and asked him to move from the area. When the person refused to move, the employee took the person’s backpack and attempted to carry it down the street. The person became irate and pulled out a large combat knife from a sheath on his hip and threatened the security employee.

On December 31, 2009 at about 2:32 AM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a disturbance. A security employee asked two patrons to leave the premises. The patrons refused to leave and assaulted the security employee and another employee. The security employee had a swollen and bloody lip, a bloody nose, and a reddish knot on his forward from a punch to his face. The other employee suffered pain from being punched in the face and his jacket pocket was ripped and two buttons were torn off, leaving holes in the jacket. One of the patrons was arrested for Assault IV and Trespass II.


On December 31, 2009 at about 11:32 PM, a patron attempted to enter the premises using another person’s identification.

On February 5, 2010 at about 10:25 PM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a theft. A patron could not pay for the alcoholic beverages he consumed. The patron was arrested for Theft of Services.

On April 6, 2010 at about 11:30 PM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding an assault on an employee. While in the dressing room of the premises, a very intoxicated dancer put another dancer in a headlock, punched her 10-15 times, and choked her to the point where she thought she would pass out. The dancer suffered a broken nose and had swelling around her eyes and cheek bones.

On June 1, 2010 at about 3:00 PM, a patron’s cell phone was stolen from inside the premises.

On June 24, 2010 at about 10:17 PM, a patron grabbed a dancer’s vagina and her butt. The patron was pushed out of the premises.

On June 25, 2010 at about 3:25 AM, a PPB officer responded to Good Samaritan Hospital regarding an assault at the premises. A security employee forcibly pushed a visibly intoxicated patron out of the premises at closing time. The intoxicated patron was punched in the eye when he attempted to return inside the premises to find his brother.

On October 26, 2010 at about 11:30 PM, a very intoxicated dancer was asked numerous times to get dressed and leave the premises. The dancer was carried out when she refused to leave.

On October 27, 2010 at about 12:45 AM, a PPB officer responded to the premises regarding a fight in progress. A patron punched a security employee in the head after being ejected from the premises for exposing his genitalia inside the premises. Another security employee pushed and punched the patron in the face, causing the patron to fall to the ground. The patron got up and charged the employee and hit him in the head and bit him on his hand, breaking the skin. The patron said he belonged to a gang and threatened both employees with further violence.

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