PDXS, May 24, 1996, Vol. 6, No. 5, p. 6, "Street Talk"

Save Our City

Nearly 500 supporters of the City Nightclub rallied on the evening of Saturday, March 18, to protest the Portland Police Bureau's plans to shut down the popular, gay-oriented, all-ages gathering spot. No problems were reported during the subsequent march, which ended at Portland City Hall. The City of Portland has filed a civil suit to close the club under the so-called "drug house ordinance," charging that drugs have been sold there in the past. Owner Lanny Swerdlow contends that the police violated a written agreement to notify him about any suspected drug dealers, and to work with him to reduce such transactions. He also wonders why the police did not try to shut down other all-ages clubs which have had worse problems in the past. Last year, for example, the Quest nightclub was the scene of numerous gang-related fights, which included stabbings, at least one shooting, and a full-blown riot which required a massive police response to stop. Instead of closing the Quest, however, the police helped line up extra security for the club, which is still in business. Swerdlow also suspects that the police have targeted his club because of his outspoken support for gay rights, including the production of numerous cable access television programs on the issue. The suit against the City Nightclub is scheduled to go to trial on Thursday, June 6. Among other things, Swerdlow's attorney plans to argue that the police did not follow the procedures laid out in the "drug house ordinance" before filing the suit.



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