A Madison bar’s federal civil rights claim brought against the city of Madison and area officials was ultimately dismissed in a U.S. District Court after a long controversy.
The claim alleged that city officials exhibited racist behavior in their decision to close down R’ Place, a south side bar.
“After a series of incidents that ranged from both minor violations and serious violations including shootings outside of the establishment, the Madison City Council and ALRC decided to revoke the liquor license of R’ Place,” Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said.
Police were dispatched to R’ Place, located on South Park Street, on multiple occasions regarding noise violations, weapons disturbances and parking issues near the bar.
The council and the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee held extensive discussions about R’ Place stretching several months, but after shootings outside the bar in September that left three injured, they made the decision to shut it down.
“R’ Place had a liquor license and a pattern of very severe problems, many fights, shots fired, people seriously hurt, things like that,” Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, said. “It was determined by the police department that the place was not safe, and they imposed the chief’s security plan.”
According to the district court hearing, the security plan required R’ Place to have two armed security guards on the premises between 10 p.m. and bar closing time, a designated manager on duty after 10 p.m., immediate notification of the authorities in the event of a fight or disturbance, full cooperation with the Madison Police Department and other stipulations.
Madison imposed the chief’s security plan to help alleviate the problems at R’ Place, Skidmore said, but when problems were not solved, the council made the decision to go to court to close down the bar.
“It was not racial discrimination,” Skidmore said. “It was about behavior, very bad behavior that was not getting any better, and it is a life-threatening situation.”
The bar can choose to appeal both the federal and state decisions or attempt to reapply for the liquor license.
“It is difficult to open and maintain bars in Madison regardless of race,” Resnick said. “There are issues that you face, and many of the issues are issues that are at any popular establish. However, I do not believe that this was race motivated.”
R’ Place owner Rick Flowers did not return attempts to contact him as of press time.