Police say early closing time would help alleviate problems
The License Commission and police are giving The Squire strip club 60 days to evaluate how security upgrades at the club are working in the wake of a February brawl. The Squire owners were before the License Commission on Wednesday, May 18 for a hearing regarding the fight that happened near last call on Feb. 28.
Revere Police Officer Daniel Marks was the detail officer on duty at The Squire on Feb. 28, and he described a scene that sounded like something out of an old Western movie. Around 1:30 a.m., he said, some of the club’s employees and bouncers got his attention about a fight going on in the back corner near the VIP area. “There were a lot of people back there, and when I got there, there were a few people fighting and it escalated from there,” said Marks.
As he tried to separate two people fighting behind the bar, Marks said, someone tried to jump on him from the bar, but he pushed that person away. “As I tried to separate [two of the people fighting], I heard glass break in front of me, and the person directly in front of me got bottled over the head with, I believe a 750 [ml] bottle,” Marks said.
As the fighting continued between multiple people, Marks said, the situation only grew more chaotic. “Every time I turned around, there was another fight breaking out,” Marks said.
By that time, police backup arrived, and police and club security worked to clear the club. “Rowdy individuals were grabbing glasses on the bar and chucking them around, and they almost hit myself and other officers,” said Marks.
After the club was eventually cleared out, Marks said, officers’ attention then turned to trying to figure out what set off the melee. “What I got was that there was a female in there who got her chain snatched from around her neck, and that started this whole thing in the VIP section, about 10 feet from where I was originally behind the bar,” Marks said.
While Marks was inside, he said, the only arrest of the night was made outside for disorderly conduct. “Due to the chaotic nature, I was more concerned about my safety at that point, because if I went hands on and tried to arrest someone, I don’t know what would have happened,” said Marks. “My focus was just separating everyone who was fighting and pushing them to the exits.”
Police Lt. Thomas Malone said the Feb. 28 incident was an outlier, but that the 2 a.m. closing time at The Squire is a concern that pulls away officers on a regular basis at closing time. “This is one of the only establishments in the city … where we have to send the shifts on nights down to this establishment to close it,” said Malone. “We have to be in the parking lot to make sure people are going to their cars. This is a nightly thing, especially on the weekends.”
Malone said he believes The Squire attracts people coming in from outside the city for last call, because there is a 2 a.m. closing, as opposed to a 1 a.m. closing time for bars in many surrounding communities. He said he sees the late closing as the primary issue with the establishment. “People are coming to our city for last call that have already had drinks in them,” said Malone. “Add that to the type of business and the patrons this establishment is attracting, which are not Revere residents for the most part; they are out of towners coming to our city for last call.”
Malone said, especially with the summer coming up, to have five or six officers heading to The Squire every night to make sure everyone gets out in an orderly fashion. “I’ll die on the hill on this one,” said Malone. “I believe it should be a one o’clock license for The Squire and establishments like this in the city. We don’t want last call establishments in the city anymore.”
The Squire owners highlighted many security measures they have taken, many at the request of the police, in the past several months. They said they also have ID scanners to identify all patrons, and have permanently banned those who took part in the February brawl. Other safety measures taken at the club include floodlights in the parking lot, additional police detail officers on Thursday and Sunday nights and locking the doors earlier (at 1 a.m.) to not let in additional patrons.
The Squire Manager/Co-Owner Peter DePesa gave some of his impressions of what caused the brawl in question. “I think the officers do a great job, and Dan did a great job that night,” said DePesa. “It was the manager and security staff who took the two guys off the officer behind the bar, so my security staff stopped what they were doing to protect the police officer.”
DePesa also stated that the patron who got bottled smashed his head into bottles behind the bar when he jumped over the bar to escape the fighting.
“As far as people running in for last call, the people who fought that night were gang members, the same people who fight down at Revere Beach,” said DePesa. “They fight because there are no repercussions. They know that if they are arrested, they are out that evening; they have no respect for police officers, myself or anybody else.”
License Commissioner Linda Guinasso said she is concerned that police officers were in danger during the incident and that police resources were being used nightly to help close the club down.
Eventually, Guinasso and License Commission Chair Robert Selevitch agreed that the club should be given 60 days to see how the improved security measures work. “There is not much we can do about the two o’clock license, though we could roll back hours if we thought there were additional issues,” said Selevitch.
Selevitch said the Commission will reevaluate the issue in 60 days, although he noted The Squire would be called back before the License Commission before then if there is an issue at the club.