Blondie’s Sports Bar & Grill in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, has generated another widespread concern amongst residents of the city, after a 19-year-old African-American man, Romel Jones, was shot dead at around 12:06 am on September 24, 2008.
Romel, who reportedly moved to Brooklyn Park recently, was pronounced dead at the scene, leaving two other victims injured with “non-life threatening injuries”.
“Brooklyn Park Police responded to….call at Blondie’s Sports Bar at 12:06 AM” said a release signed by Mary Tan, Communication Director of the City of Brooklyn.
At a press conference held in the chambers of City Council on September 24, Capt. Greg Roehl, head of Brooklyn Park Police Investigation Department, said an investigation has been launched into to incident, saying “ we have assigned about a dozen investigators to get to the bottom of this”.
As of Wednesday September 24, investigators arrested two suspects and are reportedly closing in on others.
Captain Greg revealed that an altercation between two groups triggered the incident, which led to what he described as “an unfortunate situation”.
When asked about the Blondies’ security camera, Brooklyn Park Chief Police investigator took a deep breath and said, “The Bar’s cameras had not been functioning three days before the incident”.
This response provoked wild reactions from family members who attended the maiden press conference. “Blondies is responsible to ensure that cameras are installed and the city needs to understand that they [it] cannot let Blondies off the hook when it [Blondie] failed to do the right thing”, Roosevelt Purify, a relative of the Romel, reacted in angry tone.
“The Police Department knows the kind of problems people have at Blondies yet they refused to demand better security system or service from Blondies”.
Some family members at the press conference told The Liberian Journal that Brooklyn Park Police Department has consistently ignored the failures of Blondies to live up to basic security standard, implying that City Hall is playing game with the lives of its residents.
One visibly angry family said the City of Brooklyn Park would prefer to demand that customers live up to Blondie’s demands while failing to hold Blondies responsible to follow basic guidelines that are intended to safeguard the lives of its customers.
“Brooklyn Park will respond to Blondies to arrest customers but they will not respond to the community calls to hold Blondies accountable”, she added.
The sports bar has been and remains the source of some of the most troubling problems in the City of Brooklyn Park, with official reports pointing to a disturbing trend in the number of incident-related calls over the last three years.
From 2006 to now, Police have responded to over 590 calls at Blondies, although the Police Department claimed it has dramatically increased patrols around the facility.
But the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Steve Lampi, is still hopeful that the result of the investigation could change things around. When our staff reporter asked him whether this incident would put pressure on the city to apply tough standards on Blondies, he reluctantly answered by saying “ we will wait for the report and see what is the best way forward”.
In a related note, some Liberians have planned a meeting for this weekend to design plans to pressure City Hall to act on the failures of Blondies and to prevent what they see as an apparent “conspiracy” between Blondies and city officials.
Jeffrey Johnson, one of the activists involved in the planning, told The Liberian Journal that the Brooklyn Park Police Department is a big shame and an embarrassment to residents.
“It has failed to take the appropriate actions needed to hold Blondies’s Bar and Grill accountable and it is now time to hold city officials accountable”, he emphasized.
“These guys at Brooklyn Park and at Blondies’ are taking us for a ride and we need to make noise about this, involving everybody until they commit to making changes around here”.
Many observers believe that the Blondies’s Sports Bar & Grill receives preferential treatment from the City of Brooklyn Park, raisings questions about the intents of the city to reduce incidents at Blondies.
An Asian businessman, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, said:” Look, someone in Brooklyn Park City is benefiting from sales at Blondie’s because I do not understand why these people cannot act to reduce police calls and incidents. And these calls are increasing over time and we see no real actions, except occasional interventions to make people things that they are taking actions”.
How the City of Brooklyn Park handles these emerging negative perceptions about its roles remains to be seen. But many are of the view that City Hall will have to do something that would send a clear and consistent message that it is doing all it can to hold Blondies accountable to provide a safe and decent environment for its customers and the community at-large.