- Clubbin’ Pt 1: Brawl and Gunshot During Webbie Concert (Graphic Videos)
On May 25, 2010, my family laid to rest Dexter Burroughs (21); fatally shot in the head during the early morning hours of May 16, 2010 while inside Club Ritz – a now closed Cincinnati, OH nightclub. The murder and subsequent related events heightened my concerns about these danger zones that exist in virtually every urban center. The Other Side of “Clubbin” series takes a look at a fixture in contemporary society – nightclubs. A fixture all too often connected to a number of problems in American cities. We undertake this series neither to indict all nightclubs nor to demonize a popular social activity. However, we explore the impact that troubled nightclubs have on neighborhoods. The series also tackles the question of why dangerous establishments are permitted to operate, even when known by politicians, religious and community groups, businesses, and ordinary citizens. The reader will encounter graphic content that opens a window inside a segment of society unfamiliar to some. This series’ first article remembers a terrible event involving Blackmon’s Plaza, an East St. Louis, IL nightclub.
On Apr. 2, 2011, rapper Webbie and his Supaunit crew performed at Blackmon’s Plaza in East St Louis, IL. The rapper drew a full house of testosterone and scantily-clad young women.The pre-performance consisted of nearly naked women, gyrating and clapping their buttocks in what is commonly referred to as twerking. The main attraction featured an entourage of bouncing black men, armed with microphones, rhythms, and raw language of the streets. Blackmon’s Plaza had reached fever pitch as an echo chamber of hard-charging lyrics and pounding music.
And then it happened. The brawl. Knuckles. Chairs slamming against bodies. Pistol-whipping. And a gunshot.
[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”right” width=”40%”]Members of the liquor control commission said they were most concerned by the club’s failure to maintain a list of licensed, bonded and certified security officers on the premises and by the behavior of some of the security guards shown in the video.
— St. Louis Post Dispatch[/pullquote]
What occurred at Blackmon’s Plaza had several elements common to the dangerous nightclub settings that have claimed the lives of countless young men and women. Security staff that not only lacked professionalism, but also engaged in questionable behavior.
An inadequate number of local authorities to diffuse conflicts. Videos clearly show an East St. Louis police officer moving away from the epicenter of the brawl instead of bringing order to the situation.
As the fight continued, group dynamics lit the fuse of an explosive atmosphere. A number of attendees celebrated the chaos as if it were a Las Vegas prize fight. One announcer encouraged, “Let them fight.” Some patrons watched, clapped, and cheered blows that landed. At one point, a voice come over the nightclub sound system, “Kill that nigga.”
A security guard was shot after his gun ended up in the hands of a disorderly attendee. In the aftermath of this incident, both The US Department of Justice and Illinois State Police launched investigations, including potential civil rights violations by security personnel. The City of East St. Louis suspended the nightclub’s liquor license and fined the owner.[pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”30%”]Between 2004 and 2008, commercial restaurants, bars, and nightclubs accounted for 244,000 violent victimizations and 209,350 property victimizations.
— Bureau of Justice Statistics[/pullquote]
The public maintains a number of mis-perceptions about nightclubs, several of which we will consider in subsequent articles. But as it relates to the explosive nature of nightclubs, many would like to think these conflicts are restricted to the confines of the nightclub itself. However, incidents such as the quadruple shooting involving rapper TI’s entourage in Cincinnati, OH illustrate that conflicts inside often spill over into surrounding communities. Disputes not resolved in the nightclub become [deadly] disputes that unfold in the midst of the general public.
The public, and particularly “clubbers”, might suggest that chaotic outbursts are anomalies for nightclubs. Police reports tell a different story, especially in the context of troubled establishments, this series’ primary concern. Indeed, Blackmon’s Plaza was by no means alone in violence on the night of Apr. 2, 2011. According to The Riverfront Times, police were breaking up fights at two other area nightclubs – Club Flava and The Mansion – even as the fight at Blackmon’s Plaza was unfolding.
Another mis-perception suggests that only combatants in these conflicts risk bodily harm or death. As we shall later examine, often innocent people are caught-up in misdirected assaults. For instance, a couple of years ago a female patron in Cincinnati’s Club Ritz was shot in the vagina during a nightclub disturbance.
Consider your son, daughter, brother, or sister in a captive space where heavy drinking, illegal drugs, thunderous music and aggressive language, sexual undercurrent, inadequate safety measures, and possibly guns all converge. Understand how a poorly managed establishment can easily turn into a shooting gallery that claims victims. This defines far too many of today’s nightclubs. So when your loved one says, “Be back soon. I’m going out“, do you take a 5-minute pause to ask about the destination establishment? What occurs in those few minutes might be the difference between the next day’s, “Good morning“, or visit to a morgue.
[warning]VIDEOS — CONTAIN GRAPHIC CONTENT[/warning]
Version: The brawl captured in real-time
Version: Slow motion of police walking away, pistol-whipping, chairs flying, and gunshot flash (4:27).
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