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Posted at 6:18 PM ET, 03/29/2007

Rated X in P.G.

By Fritz Hahn

It's no secret that crime is on the rise in Prince George's County. There have been 38 murders so far this year -- compared to 25 at the same time last year. On Sunday, an Oxon Hill teenager became the county's tenth homicide in as many days.

But after three people were shot in the parking lot of the popular Caribbean nightspot Crossroads on Sunday night, P.G. County Executive Jack Johnson decided to close nine P.G. nightclubs indefinitely. (A law passed last September allows the government to close any establishment that "presents an imminent danger and threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public.")

In addition to the Crossroads, the list includes the Tradewinds in Clinton and the Classics in Camp Springs, both known for hosting go-go shows by the likes of Chuck Brown, Rare Essence and Familiar Faces; the Millennium, Cuzco Restaurant and the Tick Tock Restaurant and Bar in Hyattsville; Le Pearl in Capitol Heights; and the CFE entertainment center and Knights of Columbus Hall, both in Forrestville.

(University of Maryland students should rest assured that the Tick Tock liquor store, which is attached to the restaurant, will remain open for late-night beer runs.)

The P.G. Police insist that they're not picking on inside-the-Beltway clubs that play go-go music, but that all the clubs are plagued with fights, assaults, carjackings and even homicides.

At the Tradewinds, Roger Banks, Jr., was killed in the parking lot last April, and David Sloley was killed near the club on March 21. Brian Bell was killed in the parking lot of La Perla (formerly known as the Mad Chef Cafe) on St. Patrick's Day. Terrell Haigler was killed outside the Knights of Columbus -- a popular spot for go-go concerts -- last April. And when police found the body of Jose R. Del Cid-Cruz in December, he had an entry stamp from Cuzco on his hand.

More than these homicides, though, Johnson said that the clubs being closed collected a large number of emergency calls from patron and neighbors. The three Hyattsville clubs alone accounted for more than 1,000 calls to police in 2006, he said, using valuable time and resources. Between 20 to 30 officers were regularly assigned to keep the peace at some of these clubs -- and sometimes up to 50 were needed.

The Crossroads has reggae stars Barrington Levy and Richie Spice scheduled to appear in April. There's no word yet on whether those concerts will be rescheduled or moved.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 29, 2007; 6:18 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs  
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So, I hear that Prince George's pawn shops are closing this summer, now violent clubs, next should be the liquor stores and checking cashing places on every corner. Prince George's could be so much better without all the foolishness. It was interesting to hear one of the local radio stations "stop the music" for calls about the nightclubs closings.

Lots of educated people called and made great points, but an equal amount of (dare I say) ignorant folks called saying, "We need to vote Johnson out during the next election." Um...sorry idiot, I guess you didn't realize we just had an election. Remember all the news coverage about the close county executive race during the September primary? Remember Rushern? Ring a bell? Hmm. If you missed that, then missing happy hour this weekend is the least of your worries.

Some callers were devastated. A few called in to say even though they witnessed the most recent Sunday shootings first hand (like they were standing next to one of the victims), they would go again the next week. Yea...see what we're dealing with here? Absolute foolishness!

Anyway, how about "stopping the music" to talk about teenage pregnancy, Prince George's crime in general, carjackings, auto theft, improving public schools, etc. Priorities folks, priorities! I also wonder where all the partyers will go now? DC doesn't seem to want them either. Maybe Charle's County? Or maybe hanging out on the corner with nothing to do, but start trouble. Look out Summer 2007, it might be a rough one....

Posted by: Kathy P. | March 30, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm on the fence with this one. One one side, going to the clubs can be a dangerous experience. Whenever alchohol and young adults (barely 21) are mixed, something is bound to happen. One of the radio listeners gave a solution to raise the legal drinking age to 25. People should not have to constantly "watch their back" when they go to a club to have fun. These clubs need to have ZERO tolerance with individuals that do no adhere to the rules of the establishments. For some reason, some people are attracted to this violent atmosphere. As if it is cool to fight. People get some sort of enjoyment to watch someone get "beat down". Something is obviously wrong when 10-50 police officers is needed for ONE nightclub. On the other hand, you have the individuals who really do come to just dance and have fun, who are responsible with their alchohol intake. These are the people who have to suffer for the few bad apples in the bunch. MD needs to do whatever it takes to take control of its counties. ZERO tolerance for the fools that break the law and interrupt the peace. I understand the club owners and the people that work for them along with the artist that play at these clubs are losing money. They may even say it's not their fault. I believe it partly is. The music attracts some crazy people sometimes. Just like a rock band attracts some wierdo's. I also heard on the radio one of the artists say that they need to step up also, when they see something about to happen. He said that they need to making fighting "not cool" to do. The bad seeds need to be plucked out and banned from these establishments indefinately. The age Limit needs to be increased to 25 for club admittance. High Violent clubs should be closed -- until management or whomever devises a plan and strategy to prevent or at least control to a minimum the amount of violence these clubs are drawing.

Posted by: D | March 30, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

GUNS! GUNS! GUNS! Are these victims of crimes at nightclubs being killed by sticks and stones? Hell no! GUNS! GUNS! GUNS! Young boys with access to guns and alcohol now that's the formula for good clean fun. Nightclubs aren't the problem. They are just the venue of opportunity for gun toting thugs. Hell, if churches let out 4 a.m. in the morning there would be killings in those parking lot too. There should be stiffer penalties for posessing a gun illegally. But if you did that you couldn't just look at P.G. County, you would have exam the State of Maryland, then it becomes a political issue and not a safety issue. Gun advocates in other counties would rather see P.G.'s body bag count rise rather than to take away their right bear arms.

Posted by: A.L. | March 30, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I think the county executive did the proper thing. Take away the opportunity to commit the crime and there is no crime. Just as if you take away drugs or alcohol from an addict, you take away the opportunity for them to get high. Yes, it's unfortunate that young adults can't enjoy themselves without having a few irresponsible criminals join in. I don't understand our young people anymore. How has fun turned into aggression, anger, and mischief? These young kids are hell-bent on revenge for some reason. Just waiting for someone to disrespect them so they can get them back or retaliate. Why are they so high strung at such a young age? I myself grew up in the projects of N.E. and had a father that wasn't around much. But I never developed such a propensity for violence or anger. These kids are ruining the very establishments meant to give them a brief relief from the stresses of life and they want to mess that up.
I never knew there was a club at the Tick-Tock liquor store. Good riddance.

Posted by: J | March 30, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

A year or so ago, Jack Johnson wanted to close apartment complexes when there were murders nearby.

Now he's closing clubs with nearby murders.

Both PG police headquarters and the district 4 station are just as close to several murder sites each. Will Jack be threatening to close them?

Posted by: Diane C. Russell | March 30, 2007 7:01 PM | Report abuse

I am 30, not a parent, and a lil too old to be at the go-go's 3 nights a week. But I do hit the occasional R.E. And let me tell you pompous, self-absorbed, BAD PARENTS something. All of the crime and murders in P.G can be pin-pointed to neglected teens. These are the kids who parents have no idea what they are doing or where they are half the time. They are out there with no supervision or guidance throughout their teen years. And by the time these ignored youths hit the 18-25 age group they have already established questionable morals, bad habits, and over-inflated egos. They have been bred not to care about anything or anyone over their own immediate needs or desires. So while you were downtown smoozing with the other GS13's and having your hour and a half lunch breaks your kids were skipping school and acting out. They might even be using drugs and carrying guns. So please before you come into the public forum and criticize clubs or go-go music, start first by going down into the basement and checking on your own kids (well that's if they haven't snuck out to go to the mad chef)....

Posted by: davefromdc | April 1, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

"There should be stiffer penalties for posessing a gun illegally." "Gun advocates in other counties would rather see P.G.'s body bag count rise rather than to take away their right bear arms."

The first point is (almost) right on. You PROSECUTE under current laws, if that dosn't work, you increase penalties for ILLEGAL gun use and CRIMES committed. You do that and the gun advocates can have their way too.

Johnson has a long history of blaming everything but criminals for the crimes they commit. As a State's Attorney he spent more time picking apart police officers than he did criminals. Then he became the County Exective and began blaming apartment complexes. Next he teamed up with Police Commissioner High in blaming the police officers yet again. Now he's blaming clubs.

He needs to get the State's Attorney's office to prosecute cases; evaluate the Department of Corrections's budget and see if it may then need to be increased to house criminals that would then be serving sentences; expand facilities for holding juvenile offenders - there many violent juveniles who are returned to their families because there is not space for them, the same families that ignore their actions or that they terrorize; and stop making the county police out to be the bad guys, doing that will lower morale of the good ones until the point that they don't want to do anything or they leave and then what are you left with?

Posted by: C | April 3, 2007 5:38 PM | Report abuse

just an fyi, crossroads is open again as of last weekend. would have been a big loss to the dancehall/soca/roots you should still go, just bring your bulletproof

Posted by: sunlight202 | April 6, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

What ideas do the district counselmen for these areas have to solve the problems. It is not just Jack Johnson's problem.

Posted by: Tanya | April 6, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey A.L. Since you are so gung-ho about restricting gun ownership and the 2nd amendment, maybe you can support my call to go one step further. Since it seems that hip hop music is at the center of the violence, let's repeal the First amendment. Then we can restrict free speech. And maybe the Fifth as well...then cops can search people for any reason. After all, it's so we can get those illegal guns. And let's not forget the 21st amendment which repealed the 17th...after all, prohibition of alcohol worked so well and alcohol is also at the center of this problem. And maybe the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments because those did away with slavery and granted all citizens equal protection regardless of race. After all aren't all these problems in P.G. County which is majority African American? Maybe the 8th should go because a little cruel and unusual punishment might be a good solution. How about the 16th...I just don't want to pay income taxes and thought I'd throw that one in for good measure.

Posted by: Terry | April 7, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

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