May 10, 2022 - News

Atlanta nightlife pushes back against "nuisance" policies

Michael Render, an Atlanta rapper and business man better known as Killer Mike, speaks at an Atlanta City Council meeting
Michael Render yesterday at a Council committee meeting. Screenshot courtesy of Channel 26

Atlanta nightlife proponents, including Michael Render, the rapper and businessman best known as Killer Mike, say the city walks a delicate line balancing public safety and one of its most undervalued and important industries.

Driving the news: Monday, Render joined Atlanta nightclub owners at City Hall to oppose legislation they say could snuff out nightclubs, strip clubs and other late-night businesses.

  • The list of “nuisance properties” now numbers more than 70, up from the original tally of 25, deputy solicitor Erika Smith says.

Catch up quick: Atlanta Police and city officials say a disproportionate share of violence takes place at or near a relatively small number of nightlife businesses.

  • Last weekend, downtown’s Encore Hookah Bar and Bistro permanently closed, citing a pending lawsuit by Atlanta city government and imminent eviction.
  • Police told Fox 5 that security guard Ty Ross was shot and killed after kicking out a patron in February. Officers were called to the property more than 170 times over the past two years, the station reported.

Details: Sponsored by council member Dustin Hillis, the legislation directs the Atlanta municipal court to shut down a business — not just nightclubs — if the court deems them a "nuisance" two times within 24 months. Businesses could not be closed for more than 12 months.

  • The proposal follows Mayor Andre Dickens’ creation of a nightlife division to educate nightclub owners how to run safe businesses.

Yes, but: Nightlife boosters told members of Council’s public safety commit they think the onus should not fall solely on the businesses.

Render called Atlanta nightlife a billion-dollar industry and rattled off examples of hotspots past and present making hip-hop history — Magic City and nightclubs on Bankhead Highway, for example — and launching the business empires of T.I., Ludacris and other acts.

  • “I hope we are not cutting off our arm when all we need to clip is a pinky,” Render said.

What’s next: Darin Schierbaum, the city's assistant chief of police, says the department is researching whether officers can work off-duty jobs providing security at strip clubs. Council members plan a work session to discuss the legislation in the near future.

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