Friday, April 29, 2011

Joe Angelo's To Close Doors At 1 a.m.

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—The Brockton License Commission has voted to roll-back Joe Angelo’s Café & Deli’s closing hours from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m. after police officers and the city’s legal department testified that unless steps are taken violence that has marked the popular bar for at least the last two years could escalate into homicide.
“There’s going to be a murder…you don’t want to sit on your hands this evening,” said Assistant City Solicitor Katherine Feodoroff as she wrapped up the city’s case during a License Commission hearing Wednesday night April 27 that centered on a March 12 brawl at Joe Angelo’s that included several arrests a stabbing and a woman who had her face gouged by a broken beer bottle.
The roll-back which takes place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights will begin as soon as the notification process is complete—estimated to be a week or so.
The roll-back includes prohibiting patrons from entering the bar after Midnight, entertainment must finish by 12:30 a.m. and last call will be at 12:45 a.m.
After six months, if Joe Angelo’s does not have any other trouble, it can apply to have the roll-back rescinded.
Feodoroff’s recommendation from the city’s legal department included rolling back Joe Angelo’s 2 a.m. license to 1 a.m. or Midnight with no promoted “First Friday” event, no advertisement of the First Friday events, decreasing the bar’s capacity and patrons must use plastic cups instead of beer bottles.
However, the commission voted the roll-back to 1 a.m. instead of midnight and took no action on the other measures.
Joe Angelo’s has other violations pending from other incidents including an altercation where Firefighter Jaime Barbosa faces gun charges--that will be decided at future hearings and commissioners could vote more changes to the Main Street bar and restaurant.
Several city councilors attended the hearing, including Ward 2 Councilor Thomas Monahan who said he and Council President Paul Studenski have contacted Police Chief William Conlon and others to work out a solution to some of the problems in the downtown so people can feel safe and want to go to downtown businesses.
Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart urged the License Commission to apply the law equally and fairly because from research he has done over many years may show the commission does not punish establishments evenly.
Former Progression’s Lounge owner Jeffrey D. Summers—who has criticized the License Commission and has called the commission's dealings racist and who has filed a Civil Rights lawsuit against the city connected to Progression's hours roll-back--attempted to submit a list of violations at Joe Angelo’s that have gone unpunished—however Commission Chairman Kelly demanded Summers limit his comments to items on the agenda.
“This is not going to be your personal forum,” Kelley said.
The most damaging information during the hearing came from police officers who testified that the March 12 brawl was an out of control melee in the parking lot behind Joe Angelo’s that extended down the parking lot for 100 to 200 yards to the old BAT bus terminal. (Pictured above)
Officers said fighting erupted outside the bar and involved between 70 to 100 people who were brawling in groups of 10 to 15 in various areas behind Joe Angelo’s.
Detective George Almeida said after being called by Officer William Hallisey--who works a detail at Joe Angelo’s--Brockton’s entire night shift crew and several State Police cruisers that park near Joe Angelo’s at closing during busy nights because of known problems at closing time found skirmishes and brawls everywhere in the back parking lot.
Almeida said there was an especially wild group of women who were battling a couple of other women. Almeida said the brawling women were surrounded by a group of men chanting and yelling, “f**k them up.”
“They were out of control,” Almeida said, adding two of the women asked him for help because other women from Boston had threatened them while they were in Joe Angelo’s.
None of the officers could say if the fights began inside Joe Angelo’s—a point John “Jake” Creedon, the lawyer for owner Joe Angelo made several times because often bars and restaurants are exonerated because problems happen outside their businesses and not inside.
The city’s lawyer Feodoroff said the law does not necessarily allow businesses to push unruly patrons outside to fight.
“You can’t just push someone out of the bar and close your eyes,” Feodoroff said.
Creedon reiterated the fight did not start in the bar and that Joe Angelo and his family have always done everything they can to provide a safe environment.
Joe Angelo spoke for himself and said he wants a safe and non-violent establishment because his children and family work there.
“If there’s a solution here, I’m all for it,” he said.
Officer Hallisey—who was inside the bar said he followed two men—one a convicted felon-- who are regulars at the bar as they walked out because he thought it was odd the two would leave before last call.
“They are always the last ones to leave,” Hallisey said.
Other than the two men leaving, Hallisey said, neither he nor a contingent of bouncers saw or heard any signs of trouble until the men walked outside, followed by 20 to 30 other people.
“When I saw those two gentlemen and the crowd my instincts told me something was going to happen,” Hallisey said.
Hallisey said the fights began shortly after the group went outside and stepped off Joe Angelo’s back deck and into the parking area.
The brawl was reported at about 1:58 a.m. Feodoroff said there were indications that some patrons were over-served and were very intoxicated.
Officers who arrived on the scene said they found a man sitting on a wall just outside Joe Angelo’s back porch.
“He was too drunk to know he was stabbed,” Detective Almeida said, noting another man was so drunk that if there was not a wall to hold him up he would have fallen to the ground.
Lt. Paul Bonanca said State Police were already on the scene because it had become standard procedure for law enforcement to park at Crescent and Main Streets because of a litany of problems at Joe Angelo’s around the 1:45 a.m. when patrons are leaving before the 2 a.m. cutoff.
Bonanca said Brockton suffers from what called “Conventioneer’s Syndrome” in that people from all over the South Shore, Boston and R.I. come to Brockton because it is one of the few remaining communities that allows alcohol past 1 a.m.
He said these people have no ties to the city and feel they can do whatever they want.
“The problem is the clientele,” Bonanca said. “A lot of our resources have been drawn to Joe Angelo’s,” he said.
Every officer who testified was asked if during the last two years had they been called to Joe Angelo’s for incidents—violent or otherwise.
Each officer reported yes and estimated they had to go there at least 50 times or more for calls at the bar.

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