In the annals of bad timing, the letter from the City of Cleveland to the Cocktail Lounge, a gay bar, earns a special place. In the letter, the city complained that the police visited the bar nine times over the course of a year. Of course, the last time the cops were there it was because a mob of 20 teenagers went on a rampage outside the bar, gaybashing Jared Fox. The letter was dated five days after the attack.
“Repeated calls to the same property place an undue and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland and on our safety forces,” wrote Martin Flask, director of Public Safety. “Therefore, within 10 days of the date of this letter, you will be required to submit your action plan to the First District Neighborhood Police Commander…, outlining your strategy to eliminate the problems at this location.”
After an all-too-appropriate backlash, Flask has rescinded the letter and called it “unfortunate,” which is PR for “embarrassingly stupid.” However, Flask contends that the calls had nothing to do with hate crimes, but were instead related to “fights, disturbances and robbery.”
Ric Scardino, a friend of bar owner Brian Lyons, told the Huffington Post that the problem wasn’t the calls. The problem was the ongoing crime that prompted them. “All those calls they [city officials] were talking about weren’t for the bar,” Scardino said. “They were things happening outside of the bar. …It’s not a bar issue, it’s a city issue.”