More weirdness in Downtown Vegas, but for once not (apparently) involving Tony Hsieh's Downtown Project. (Disclosure: Hseih's Vegas Tech Fund in NSFWCORP's largest investor)
All week I've been hearing whispers that, this past Friday, with "First Friday" celebrations in full swing, LV Metro PD staged a series of "raids" against three of Fremont East's flagship bars. Cops and business code enforcement officials arrived unannounced at the Commonwealth, Vanguard and Beauty Bar and, citing various noise and public order ordinances, demanded that the venues either fully or partially close. The Griffin apparently received a similar visit but was allowed to remain open after the officials were unable to show any actual violation.
According to my source, the Commonwealth and Beauty Bar immediately acquiesced to the order, with only the Vanguard putting up a fight. The result: cops began issuing citations to customers standing outside the bar for unlwaful assembly (in Vegas! on Fremont Street!)
This strange crack-down (which NSFWCORP's Dayvid Figler seemed to confirm on last night's NSFWLIVE) comes just a week after Metro issued a flurry of tickets to outdoor drinkers over the July 19-20 weekend, citing the city's seldom-enforced open container laws.
One thing is clear: Vegas Metro is fucking with someone. But who?
At least one well-placed Fremont source points out that the crackdown coincides with an increase in the number of African American men visiting Fremont East on weekends as bars there have begun adding more hip-hop to their playlists. Back in 2006, Vegas law enforcement was criticised for its "anti rap" policy, which aimed to drive fans of rap and hip-hop away from the city, citing concerns over violence.
While Vegas residents will be horrified at the notion that Vegas Metro might be in any way involved in a racist and very possibly illegal attempt to keep Fremont white, it is worth noting that the bars which most regularly play hip-hop were the exact same ones targeted in the raids, while the ones that almost never do were left alone.
I've reached out to Metro and some of the downtown bar owners for comment. I'll keep updating.