Cleveland police have delivered a letter warning the owner of a local gay bar to end his frequent calls for police assistance, despite several documented instances of antigay hate crimes committed outside the bar in recent weeks.
After apparently calling the police nine times in the past year, in some cases to report anti-LGBT disturbances outside Cocktails Lounge, the gay bar’s owner received a letter from the Cleveland police warning that “repeated calls to the same property place an undue and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland.” The letter, obtained by Towleroad, orders owner Brian Lyons to submit an action plan to police within 10 days “outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.” Should Lyons fail to “address these issues, resulting in future calls for police service,” public safety director Martin L. Flask wrote, Lyons will be “scrutinized for appropriate administrative or law enforcement action.”
Over Labor Day weekend, a gay man was beaten by a group of as many as 20 young people as he walked to Cocktails Lounge. Jared Fox suffered a bruised and lacerated face and a ruptured eardrum as a result of the attack. The assailants reportedly took Fox’s phone, so he had to call the police from inside the bar. Three other calls reporting disturbances near the bar were also made that same night, according to police.
This week Cocktails released video showing a group of young people throwing rocks — some the size of cantaloupes — over the bar’s fence at patrons standing on the patio. Customers inside the bar stepped outside and reportedly chased away the would-be attackers. One 13-year-old boy was arrested in connection to the attack, reports Towleroad.
At least six antigay attacks have been reported at or near the bar, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In an editorial published in today’s paper, the Plain Dealer notes that the increasingly violent antigay climate in Cleveland could have a dire impact on the 2014 Gay Games, set to take place in the city next August.
Calling the string of recent attacks outside a “bleak and badly lit stretch of Detroit Ave.” a “reality check on what’s really happening in some of our neighborhoods,” the editorial calls for increased education, tolerance, and acceptance. “One of the lessons of the games is the need to foster diversity,” reads the editorial. “That message needs to be delivered as well to the young people who live near West 91st and West 93rd streets and Detroit Avenue.”
Cleveland’s News Channel 5 reached out to the police department for a statement, where a spokesperson called the letter’s timing an “unfortunate coincidence,” said the incidents referenced in the letter were not the alleged hate crimes, and also claimed the department has since rescinded the letter.