East St. Louis Entertainment District? Illinois Officials Urge Against 24-Hour Nightclubs

Categories: News

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Last week, in his State of the City address, East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks unveiled a plan for economic growth in his city that involves extended hours for local nightclubs.

"Entertainment is a tourist attraction, entertainment helps to bring commerce, we need something to drive some dollars here in East St. Louis," Parks said.

Some officials in Illinois, however, are not so fond of the part of his vision that involves 24-hour clubs and have penned a harshly worded letter to Parks urging him to nix this. They argue that this change could increase the risk of violence and undermine federal law enforcement efforts.

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The letter comes from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly, who say that an ordinance passed last year to limit operating hours of nightclubs has been successful. The letter, full text below, refers to nightclubs as "hubs of criminal activity, murder and violence."

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East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks.

The two write:

Progress has been made in recent months in rebuilding public safety institutions in East St. Louis and surrounding communities, but there is a long way to go. That's why it is shocking and disappointing that you are now proposing to abandon existing closing hours for nightclubs in the city. Allowing these nightclubs to stay open all night will increase the risk of violence and killings. The cost of this violent crime to East St. Louis' families far exceeds any economic benefit that extended club hours might bring.

In his speech, Parks apparently said, "In the '80's, East St. Louis was known as 'East Boogie,'" and argued that he wants to build an entertainment district that does not shut down at 3 a.m. on the weekends, sending business to St. Louis and other surrounding communities.

In a recent interview with Daily RFT, Parks -- discussing a concealed-carry law that Illinois will likely soon adopt -- tells us that there have been notable improvements in public safety at nightclubs in East St. Louis. Continued crime prevention is a priority, he said.

Still, in outlining his new economic plan for East St. Louis, it appears that the mayor hopes to expand this industry.

News reports from yesteday say that Parks has since backed off of his specific call for new 24-hour licenses for nightclubs, but is still committed to an improved entertainment district and nightlife in East St. Louis.

It's unclear at this point what the scope of his nightlife expansion plan is and Parks has not responded to several requests for comment from Daily RFT. We'll update if we hear back.

In the meantime, here is a copy of the full press announcement and critical letter from Durbin and Kelly urging Parks to drop plans for extended hours:

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - In a letter to East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks and members of the East St. Louis City Council, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly today said that extending night club hours in East St. Louis will increase the risk of violence and killings while undermining federal law enforcement efforts that Durbin has fought to bring to East St. Louis. Their letter was sent following a report by the Belleville News-Democrat that the East St. Louis City Council is prepared to vote on a proposal that would allow nightclubs in the city to remain open 24-hours. The text of the letter is below . June 20, 2013 Alvin L. Parks Jr. Mayor City of East St. Louis 301 River Park Drive East St. Louis, IL 62201

Dear Mayor Parks:

Last June the East St. Louis City Council voted in favor of an ordinance that limited the operating hours of nightclubs that had long been hubs of criminal activity, murder and violence. While crime remains a serious challenge, this ordinance was a much-needed step that has helped reduce crime and make East St. Louis a safer place in the year since it took effect.

Progress has been made in recent months in rebuilding public safety institutions in East St. Louis and surrounding communities, but there is a long way to go. That's why it is shocking and disappointing that you are now proposing to abandon existing closing hours for nightclubs in the city. Allowing these nightclubs to stay open all night will increase the risk of violence and killings. The cost of this violent crime to East St. Louis' families far exceeds any economic benefit that extended club hours might bring.

Further, we have long urged federal and state law enforcement agencies to step up to help combat violent crime in East St. Louis, and they have devoted significant resources to this effort. We do not want their contributions to be undermined by ill-conceived proposals to keep nightclubs open at all hours. These federal and state resources are stretched thin as it is. Your own police department's resources are stretched thin.

We have spoken with many residents of East St. Louis who live in daily fear of violent crime, and we have committed that we will do all we can to help reduce this crime. It is because of that commitment that we express our strong opposition to your proposal to abandon reasonable nightclub closing hours. Real, sustainable economic development will come to East St. Louis only once public safety comes to East St. Louis. We urge you to withdraw this proposal, and should you press forward with it, we urge the City Council to vote it down.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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47 comments
tinky32justice
tinky32justice

How many shootings have been at club casino??? Don't forget about Blackmons shooting inside the club. They have 'security'...... You know family members and friends. When club casino is open east st Louis police have to be there at closing damn near shutting down state street because of all the ignorance. Waste of time and tax money just to keep clubs open longer.

Joshua Lewis
Joshua Lewis

We've tried jsut about everything else i think. Let's do it.

Marcus Fields
Marcus Fields

if estl so bad why is it that most crimes are on the missouri side. every morning its a murder on you guys side

Jerry Hindes
Jerry Hindes

Nothing good ever happens after midnight!

James Adams
James Adams

I think they are talking about E. St. Louis not Sauget and shootings are common there.

Barbara Crincoli
Barbara Crincoli

People are going to find something to get into. When I was in Turkey, they had daytime clubs for teens. No alcohol, but it gave the something to do. Crime happens no matter what time it is or what is open or closed.

Meredith Gabbert
Meredith Gabbert

And I've been lots of places with "mass amounts of people" where there were no shootings, stabbings, or other forms of VIOLENT crime.

Meredith Gabbert
Meredith Gabbert

Um, use the right form of "there" if you're going to try to argue with someone, and baseball games don't happen in East St. Louis where the violent crime is through the roof.

Bob Cento
Bob Cento

Even if I still lived in St Louis- you wouldn't catch me anywhere in East St Louis in day or night..Crime is bad enough for the city of St Louis

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

It's called regulation. Something Missourians are not to familiar with judging by their marijuana laws.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

That's why we pass laws forcing them too Marty.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Um what kind of crime? Last club I went to I was looking to have a good time, not to commit a crime.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Oh yes cause if clubs stay open later their will undoubtedly be more crime. Straw man argument easily debunked. So shall we stop having baseball games because they generate crime also? Anytime a mass amount of people get together there is going to be crime. That does not mean we have to associate everything that involves large numbers of people to crime.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

You can't serve alcohol after a certain time. Maybe it will give people time to sober up before they hit the road.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

We don't have Pops. Pop's belongs to IL. Nice try though.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Maybe we can use some of that tax revenue generated from the clubs to fund more productive things in the state ever think about that?

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

We got high school students in this state that can't even afford drives ed in high school and you want to talk about Nightclubs? hahahahahah Get lost!

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Fix the infrastructure, public education and joblessness problem and then come talk to me about nightclubs OK?

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Oh yea, nightclubs...that's the real problem....Don't make me laugh.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Don't bother responding cause I know you don't have the guts to make the wager. Shake your head all you want but that won't change the fact that I'm right.

Jessica Kolios
Jessica Kolios

Up security then! Metal detectors, body pat down. If you keep complaining about the crime rate then just do something about it

Tony Merklin
Tony Merklin

Duh....Da' ya think ????? But on the other hand, Crime can't go up too much farther in the Most dangerous City in the US.....

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Oh yea cause there is no way a criminal could ever get his hands on gun (Legally) without a background check in the state of Missouri. Don't test me, I know more about our gun culture than you would ever want to admit. Don't believe me? How about we make an interesting wager? If I can get an AR-15 in the next 24hrs without a background check YOUR BUYING! Deal?

Anna Probst
Anna Probst

People still voluntarily visit estl?

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

Last I checked the majority of violence that has been happening in the city has not been at night clubs but on the streets. You won't find the deceased body of a dead girl lost inside a nightclub anytime soon

Marty Mowdy
Marty Mowdy

You had me shaking my head yes there until the gun control part...

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

You know what would be nice? To open some all ages rock clubs in the more rural parts of Missouri. Maybe that will give the kids something else to do besides car hopping and smoking meth.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

You know what generates crime? Job losses, lack of education, lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable health care, hate speech on the radio, the drug war and an the overall failed attempt at effective gun control.

Marty Mowdy
Marty Mowdy

We had clubs like that around here (not 24 hr...just high crime) and they finally hired high visibility off duty cops to work the area and it shut that down in a few months. The trouble is, these clubs don't want to dip into their profits to supply proper security.

Meredith Gabbert
Meredith Gabbert

What's more important: money (economy) or people's lives (violent crime)? Because no one can deny there's already a problem there, and 24 hr nightclubs aren't going to improve the violent crime situation.

James Adams
James Adams

I think both are true, more crime and more revenue, question is it worth it.

Travis White
Travis White

will be good for the DUI rates for police... so yeah will help the economy in that respect.

Neil Aimaro
Neil Aimaro

It's a myth that clubs generate any kind of significant crime.

Ed Gibson
Ed Gibson

theres at least a shooting a week at these clubs already

Marty Mowdy
Marty Mowdy

Although......if they supply a "recuperation area", it might cut down on drinking and driving...

Bob Shirley
Bob Shirley

I think it is hard to have an increase in crime in East St. Louis at this point....

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