Archive for Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Use of ‘race card’ deemed improper

February 13, 2008

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Dennis Steffes, owner of the troubled downtown nightclub Last Call, twice has alleged the city has unfairly targeted his club for enforcement because it caters to largely a black crowd.

But leaders of two of the city's larger black organizations aren't convinced.

Donna Bell, president of the Lawrence-Douglas County Chapter of the NAACP, and Ebony Howard, president of Kansas University's Black Student Union, both said they thought any increased level of enforcement at the club was related to incidents of past violence, not issues of race.

"What is difficult with that club is that time and time again there seems to be situations involving guns," Bell said. "That's a legitimate cause of concern."

Howard was concerned that club owner Steffes was improperly injecting the serious issue of race into his club's battle to stay open.

"I'm sorry that this white club owner is playing the race card hoping that it will incite the black community," Howard said. "I've never seen him being an advocate for African-American causes before. His only involvement seems to be that he owns the Last Call."

But some members of the black community have stepped forward and echoed Steffes' allegations.

Vandom Pittman, a Topeka disc jockey who has done shows at Last Call, 729 N.H., said Steffes was being punished for operating a hip-hop dance club.

"There's a thing called fear of a black dance floor," Pittman told the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control division during a hearing in December. "Any place there are more than 10 black people, unless it is a church, there's fear."

The city has denied any allegations that race has played a role in how it has dealt with the club.

Bell, with the NAACP, said she thought the city generally had done a good job of treating people of color fairly. She said her organization has had a "dialogue" with the Lawrence police department on a couple of specific issues, but said the city always has been an active listener.

"What I'm confident in is that the city of Lawrence is willing to make changes when there is a call for it," Bell said.

She said the NAACP had received one complaint from a patron of Last Call alleging the crowd was treated differently because of its race. But Bell said the organization needs more information to make a judgment that the club and its patrons are being treated unfairly.

"There has to be more than one person saying racism is behind this," Bell said. "But if there truly is a sense that racism is behind this, we're more than happy to take a serious look at it. But at this point, we don't have that evidence.

"What we have observed is that it is an unsafe club."

Comments

somebodynew 7 years, 4 months ago

"What we have observed is that it is an unsafe club."

THANK YOU for a voice of reason in what could be a "stirred up" agitated (falsely) situation.

That club is bad news because of violence and guns, period.

acg 7 years, 4 months ago

I also don't think what Pittman said is racist. So many people are quick to shout "racism" when someone makes an observation about a specific race, color or culture. It's like the big white elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Black people know that they're black and having a dialogue regarding black issues does not necessarily make someone a racist. That being said, I find it refreshing that the black advocacy organizations in Lawrence didn't hop on the bandwagon with Steffes and his assumptions. It seems all too often a lot of black leaders (I'm thinking of old Al) like to shout racism whenever possible for no other reason than to lend credence to their cause.

aedavid22 7 years, 4 months ago

Thats Funny because I have personally seen more than 10 black people on the dance floor of every club in town(The Hawk, Brothers, Abe and Jakes, The Ranch, ect.) and this looming sense of fear you talk about is non-existent. Its not color people fear its the culture, music that glorifies guns, killing, and crime is bound to produce products of its overly explosive media. And as far as Mr. Steffes alligations of racism, why is he the only club in town to charge a $20.00 cover or more in some cases, maybe Mr. Steffes needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and see just who is taking advantage of the black community. The community in FEAR or the person who profits from it.

Mike Curtis 7 years, 4 months ago

I would say that the people making the dance floor scary are the true racists.

ForThePeople 7 years, 4 months ago

Anonymous user

blue73harley (Anonymous) says:

The scariest dance floor that I've ever seen usually involves drunk, middle-aged white guys.

OMG...I just choked on my coffee! Thanks for the morning laugh..I wholeheartedly agree!

Haiku_Cuckoo 7 years, 4 months ago

The scariest dance floor that I've ever seen usually involves drunk, middle-aged white guys.

No doubt about that. Every wedding reception features at least one drunk, sweaty white guy who wears his necktie like a headband as he tries to "get down with his bad self". And don't even get me started on the scary white spectacle known as the Electric Slide.

bangaranggerg 7 years, 4 months ago

"I've never seen him being an advocate for African-American causes before. His only involvement seems to be that he owns the Last Call."

That's so true to point out that Steffies isn't speaking up because of his concern for the black community. He's doing it to continue cashing in, what a total d-bag he is.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Read my lips, It's the violence stupid. Has this DJ or Steffes talked to the patrons and said "Listen, they want to shut down the bar, so if you really like this place, you'll keep your guns and attitudes at home." Probably not.

All bars have fights, drunks will do that. And sometimes it escalates with weapons. I wouldn't want to shut a bar down for an occasional fist fight, even if 1 fight ends in stupidity. But this bar just keeps going on and on. Like I said yesterday, I want young people to come together and dance and have fun, regardless of the race, religion, sexual orientation, sex, or taste in music. What won't be tolerated is the violence. If you enjoy violence, then yes I am bigoted towards you, and I don't want you in Lawrence; you're not welcome. Would you call that violencism or jerkism?

Hilary Morton 7 years, 4 months ago

"It's like the big white elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about."

Why does the elephant have to be white? Racist!

:) j/k

Hey, can the city shut down Coyote's too?

BigAl 7 years, 4 months ago

The scariest dance floor that I've ever seen usually involves drunk, middle-aged white guys.


blue73harley wins for the best single line on these pages EVER!!

acg 7 years, 4 months ago

So true blue. What is it about copious amounts of booze that always makes pudgy white guys in too tight suits want to boogie to the YMCA?

Sean Livingstone 7 years, 4 months ago

It just happenz that the most violent bar here in Lawrence is patronized by mainly blacks or catered for black clients. Probably there is some racism somehow or fear of a black bar here, but you cannot take the blame away from the blacks who committed or provoked those crimes. Regardless whether you're a black, white, asian, latinos, etc., you won't want to expose your children to these people, whether these people are white, black, asian, latino etc. So, just pack up and leave.

Marcy McGuffie 7 years, 4 months ago

The scariest dance floor that I've ever seen usually involves drunk, middle-aged white guys.


Hey, stop talking about my husband that way! ;-) LMAO. Tis true, tis true.

I can't believe that guy had the nerve to say people are fearful of gatherings of black people. What a bunch of bull. Of course, he IS from Topeka (oh, groan - yes, she did just make the obligatory "let's dog Topeka" remark).

BalkansHawk 7 years, 4 months ago

blue73harley

"The scariest dance floor that I've ever seen usually involves drunk, middle-aged white guys."

I resemble that remark.

Calliope877 7 years, 4 months ago

"There's a thing called fear of a black dance floor," Pittman told the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control division during a hearing in December. "Any place there are more than 10 black people, unless it is a church, there's fear."

Sorry, but this is B.S. in my opinion. There used to be a club called Brown Bear on Mass a few years ago. It was heavily frequented by black people, and as far as I know there were never any incidents of the type of violence we're seeing at Last Call.

jehovah_bob 7 years, 4 months ago

hilary (Anonymous) says:

Hey, can the city shut down Coyote's too?


Good point hilary. I think they'll have to shut down Coyote's, because the underlying issue is that Last Call and Coyote's hold each other in check. If Last Call is shut down, Lawrence will be over run by a bunch of white honkey-tonkers. If such a case were to occur, I would predict there will be an alarming increase in cow tipping and illegal snipe hunting, not to mention all the hootin' and hollerin' and general carousing that would ensue.

rumor_man 7 years, 4 months ago

"There's a thing called fear of a black dance floor," Pittman told the director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control division during a hearing in December. "Any place there are more than 10 black people, unless it is a church, there's fear."


Pretty much any NBA basketball game has more than 10 black people on the court too Mr. Pittman.

bangaranggerg 7 years, 4 months ago

Pittman- "any time there is more than 10 armed gang members dancing white people are afraid".. Guilty.. you got me.

akt2 7 years, 4 months ago

That is the only card they have to play.

OnlyTheOne 7 years, 4 months ago

Here we go again. More biased reporting and blogging without a clue. I quote, "Dennis Steffes, owner of the troubled downtown nightclub Last Call, twice has alleged the city has unfairly targeted his club for enforcement because it caters to largely a black crowd." from LJ-W 20080213. Yes, he did and here's the LJ-W article that covered it. " Last Call owner Dennis Steffes said Friday that city officials told him if he changed his crowd and music they would stop trying to get rid of his liquor license. "It was a racial issue," said Steffes, who said that Last Call, 729 N.H., played hip-hop music and attracted mostly black customers. AND "Owen (Mr. Steffes Attorney) said he had a phone conversation with Lawrence City Manager David Corliss and Corliss said, "Change his music and change his crowd and we'll back off." from LJ-W 20080209. By the way "the subject was raised in court by Sarah Byrne, a state assistant attorney general." quoted from the same article! Now don't any of you ever try to tell me that Mr Steffes was raising the "race" issue when it's apparent the City was!
Now how about some of you starting to actually READ what's being printed in the LJ-W rather than zeroing in on some blogger's recollection and incorrect comments!

jonas 7 years, 4 months ago

"its the culture, music that glorifies guns, killing, and crime is bound to produce products of its overly explosive media."

Chicken and egg? Is it not equally as possible that music that glorifies guns, killing, and crime is bound to be reflective of the particular culture that creates it? Personally, I find it to be highly more likely, but that's zhi shi wo de kanfa.

Whoa! That came out in Chinese more easily than the english would have. My brain hurst. (just my point of view)

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 7 years, 4 months ago

Anyone interested in picketing the Last Call Friday night, meet me at Aimee's coffee (across from the Granada) at 5:00pm Friday. I'll be the short chubby grey-haired lady. We'll discuss strategies. Bring signs if you want, but definitely bring cameras. Those will make the patrons more nervous than signs.

I've sent emails to several city officials about getting a permit to assemble, but no one has answered, so let's just do it without any permit.

Calliope877 7 years, 4 months ago

OnlytheOne,

I agree that the choice of music should not be connected to what type of crowd Last Call draws in -- there are several clubs which play Hip-Hop or Rap music without any gun violence occurring inside or outside of the premises -- however, it's very apparrent that this club DOES draw a violent crowd for whatever reason and it IS NOT acceptable.

del888 7 years, 4 months ago

If the music has nothing to do with the crowd, then I suggest playing country music all night. Then we will actually see if the same crowd hangs out there. I think it's obvious that the music, the crowd, and the violence are all related.

jonas 7 years, 4 months ago

"Abortionists are simply using blacks for power and wealth, the same way much of the black clergy, black politicians and liberal elite whites have used blacks for years." : Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, on the targeting of the black race by racist abortionist quacks"

Wow, one preacher's opinion!!!! You go all out!

Who the hell is the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson?

jonas 7 years, 4 months ago

Zounds!!! Jonas inflation!!

No problem, though. Your name is Jonas, my name is jonas.

Wheezer fan, I hope. (I must note, that I tried to like that song, but I can't.)

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