HOUSTON VOICE www.houstonvoice.com
APRIL 23, 2004 3
Activists hope to prevent a
police nightclub raid on Montrose
clubs operate legally,
gay activist contends
By CHRISTOPHER CURTIS
Gay activist Ray Hill and Houston City
Controller Annise Parker are hoping to prevent an after-hours bar raid like the one that
took place last week in the East End from
happening in Montrose.
"It was horrible," Hill said. "It looked
like a relic out of the '50s or '60s to me."
For that reason. Hill said, he is working
with city staff to schedule a meeting with
Mayor Bill White and Police Chief Harold
"A time will be found when we will be
able to sit down and talk about this," he
said. "We're doing everything possible to
prevent an assault on Montrose."
Parker, a six-term council member who
last year was elected city controller, said she
"I completely disagree with this and I
think the mayor is wrong on this." Parker
said. "And I think people need to talk to him.
Right now they're focusing on Hispanic
clubs, but if we give them any leeway,
they'll be at our bars. Gay Pride week is not
that far away."
Hispanic activists are also calling for an
end to the raids.
Early Saturday morning, the newly created Hot Spot Task Force converged on La
Gaviota Nite Club, 8011 Harrisburg, and
arrested about 30 people.
"The police rushed in, I know they said
they didn't make any hard entries, but why
would they? The doors were already open,"
Hill said. "They poured in, and said, 'Up
The popular gay nightclub South Beach is among a handful of after-hours clubs in Montrose that activist Ray Hill
said operates meticulously within the law. (Photo by Dalton DeHart)
Gay activist Ray Hill will meet with Mayor Bill White
and Police Chief Harold Hurtt to discourage a police
raid on Montrose.
against the wall and everybody take out
their identification' and basically terrorized people for an hour and a half."
Hill added, "According to the news
reports, the club was not serving alcohol
after hours. Police only arrested customers,
most of them for public intoxication."
30 arrested for drunkeness
An arrest for public intoxication, Hill
explained, legally means the suspect
appears to be intoxicated to the extent that
the individual constitutes a danger to himself, herself or others. "It's inherently a subjective judgment for the cops," Hill said. "It
means the officers need no burden of proof."
Police said only one of the bar patrons
was found to be in possession of drugs.
Many of the people jailed in the raid
were released Sunday morning.
For Hill, what he witnessed last weekend
conjures up a frightening picture of what
might happen if a raid were staged on the
clubs that operate in Montrose. He isn't sure
club patrons are psychologically prepared
to deal with what happens when a multi-
agency task force descends on an establishment at 2:30 a.m.
For that reason, Hill said, he plans to
monitor the movements of the task force on
Friday and Saturday evenings.
There has been no confirmation that a
raid on Montrose is imminent. But if police
do move on Montrose, Hill said, he will be
available to help club staff and patrons
through the ordeal.
The task force, made up of police officers, firefighters, health inspectors, neighborhood protection investigators and representatives of the Texas Alcoholic Be
Commission, was created by Mayor White
and Chief Hurtt after rookie Houston firefighter Kevin Kulow died in a fire at an
after-hours club April 4th.
Police said James Alonso Guevara set the
North Houston fire because he was involved
in a child custody dispute with his
estranged wife, who worked at the club. He
has been charged with capital murder.
Mayor White said that incident came after
an avalanche of complaints city officials were
receiving regarding after-hours clubs. He
staunchly contends that very little that is good
takes place on Houston streets after 2 a.m.
White said he wants to keep clubs from
operating past 2 a.m. He wants to change a
city ordinance amendment passed in 1999
that made it easier for clubs to remain open
after they stopped selling alcohol. Council
members originally passed the bill in part
to keep drunken customers off the road.
But now city leaders consider after-hours
clubs not a solution but a new problem,
especially since two incidents occurred
after Kulow's death.
Police said on Sunday professional football player Marcus Spriggs and his cousin
got into a fight with another customer at the
Shame Nightclub after 4 a.m.
Police said as Spriggs drove away, someone fired at his car, grazing the player and
hitting his cousin in the shoulder. His
cousin had to be treated at a hospital.
On Tuesday at 6 a.m., a fire broke out at
an after-hours club in the 4300 block of
Wilmington. No one was hurt.
But Ray Hill said these problems will not
happen at after-hours clubs in the Montrose
"I am confident that the management of
the gay after-hours establishments are on
par or superior to the management else- .
where. And 1 don't think gay people need to
be herded around like animals. We welcome
inspections It's the up-against-the-wall raid
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