Spurred on by the recent shooting of five people involved in a fight that spilled into the streets of Blodget and Ennis from Spivey’s Uptown nightclub, the MacGregor Super Neighborhood, Riverside Civic Association and a host of residents are banning together to express outrage at increasing crime in the Third Ward community, and demand city, county and state action.
Sharon Evans Brooks, one of the organizers of the #NoMoreCrime movement, listed four demands residents want met by lawmakers.
- City of Houston should suspend occupancy permits to bars, clubs and City convenience stores immediately after a violent offense until an investigation is completed by authorities.
- City of Houston should deny occupancy permits to bars and clubs that heavily rely upon shared parking, excluding neighborhood street parking, to meet city requirements.
- City of Houston should adopt a zero-tolerance policy for violations of the city’s noise ordinance.
- State legislation requiring that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) end the practice of liquor licenses for a location in perpetuity so that the license can’t be used by the next bar or club at the same address.
Regarding demand number four, Brooks said the current “perpetuity” practice “sets up our neighborhood as a perpetual slum.”
“People pay too much for these houses, have worked their lives to get over here,” said Brooks. “We need our elected officials to do better. We deserve better.”
Tomara Bell, former board chair of the Super Neighborhood Alliance, said of resident fear, “You can’t walk your dog. You can’t take your baby in a stroller. That’s not Houston. Yes, we want to rise on Chicago in population, but hell no to crime. We don’t want be number one in crime.”
“We’re not first in crime, and we don’t intend to be first in crime,” said Mayor Sylvester Turner, who was in attendance. “We will be aggressive in saying to businesses and others, you have a responsibility to make sure you protect your patrons and your neighbors and the people that are around you. And if you do not, we’ll take whatever steps we need to take to shut you down.”
Turner cited examples of how the city’s One Safe Houston Plan is moving to address community concerns, and issues legally outside of city control requiring state legislators and entities like the TABC to act to meet community demands.
“With respect to the permitting of businesses that sell alcohol, that does not fall within the city of Houston. But it doesn’t prevent us from joining in with community groups and others that are seeking to prevent those,” said Turner.
Turner promised press conference attendess that the city would file an action against Spivey’s by Wednesday.
In the Riverside Terrace area alone, a single-family residential community with little parking or security, there are nearly 10 bar establishments. Community members say that while some bars are good neighbors, others are a hotbed of crime, where any given night, rapid gunfire can be heard.
“We recognize that we are in a crisis situation beyond COVID,” said Dr. D.Z. Cofield, pastor of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church, site of the press conference. “We thank all of the community-based organizations and our political leaders for coming together, because this problem will not be solved unless we come together to solve it.”