Photo: Chi Chiz Gallery
Gay activists and attorneys will head to court Thursday in New York City to try to prevent the New York Police Department from closing the Christopher Street bar Chi Chiz, reports the New York Post. The popular West Village spot has been subject to numerous recent raids and closures and its owners say they are being targeted.
The police claim in Manhattan Supreme Court that on four instances in a six-month period, undercover officers witnessed the sale of marijuana, cocaine and other controlled substances in the bar, which opened 12 years ago. But Chi Chiz supporters say the crackdown's motivated by racism and homophobia in a community that's increasingly white, wealthy and worried about property values.
Chi Chiz's lawyer, Tom Shanahan, told Page Six the city asked the bar to make an iron-clad guarantee that no drugs would be sold or used on its premises -- but Chi Chiz couldn't promise that. "We can't guarantee that," Shanahan explained. "I said to the judge, when the city figures out how to keep drugs off Rikers Island, they can hold us to the same standard. The terms they are insisting on would put us out of business. This is what they wanted all along." Shanahan accused undercover cops of encouraging people to go into Chi Chiz to buy drugs. "It's a set-up," he said. "It's entrapment. It's similar to what happened in the '60s to gay bookstores."
Chi Chiz has been open since June 1998 and describes itself as "the only Black gay bar in New York City." The owners and many patrons believe the NYPD is targeting them because many local residents resent the club and black/Latino gay youth in the West Village.
In March 2010, Chi Chiz was raided and temporarily shut down by the NYPD. On the night of the raid, owners and witnesses identified and took this picture of an undercover NYPD officer who shouted anti-gay epithets outside the club.
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