Safety committee discusses crimes and nightclubs in Selma

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 18, 2003

The revision of Selma’s loitering ordinance, shutting down two downtown parking lots on the weekends and a nightclub for teen-agers &045; all sat on the drawing board at the City Council’s public safety committee meeting on Monday.

The meeting focused on two nightclubs on Alabama Avenue &045; Clyde’s Tornado Lounge & Ballroom and the Platinum Club. According to Selma Police Department Chief Robert Green, several offenses have occurred in and around the area of the two clubs in the past year. Green listed the complaints, which began Jan. 3 with shots fired and disorderly conduct. Other complaints listed included assault, criminal mischief, unlawful possession of marijuana and murder.

According to Green, the two clubs were the source of the incidents. He added that sometimes crowds in the area were large enough to warrant all officers on shift to respond.

Concerning loitering, Green reminded the council about a lawsuit the city lost about five years ago. Green said the police department arrested a large group of people for loitering, which eventually led the city to court.

Clyde Richardson, owner of Clyde’s Tornado Lounge & Ballroom, said the police didn’t know the rules and regulations regarding nightclubs. &uot;Concerning Alabama Code, we haven’t broken one rule,&uot; Richardson said.

Richardson also pointed to the city’s loitering law. &uot;If the city is scared of getting sued, how do you think one poor little club owner feels?&uot; he asked. &uot;We’ve been condemned for things we have no jurisdiction over. Just like the city is afraid to deal with it, so are we.&uot;

Richardson suggested the city amend its loitering ordinance, a suggestion echoed by Councilwoman Nancy Sewell. Sewell also questioned if two downtown parking lots, known as gathering points on weekends, could be closed Friday and Saturday nights. Roosevelt Johnson, owner of the Platinum Club, yielded most of his time to local attorney Faya Ora Rose Toure.

Toure also suggested the loitering ordinance be rewritten, but noted that the clubs weren’t the source of the problem, which she said was poverty.