Chicago police shutdowns over violence go easy on clout-heavy bars downtown, harder on South Side, West Side businesses

LiqrBox, 873 N. Orleans St., where a man was killed outside the club on Sept. 18, 2021. Under similar circumstances, the Chicago Police Department has ordered the closings of dozens of other businesses linked to shootings. But it didn’t shut down LiqrBox, whose clout-heavy owner runs a string of restaurants and clubs, holds the liquor license for Lollapalooza and is a political contributor to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Frank Main / Sun-Times

When a patron of a glitzy Near North Side bar called the LiqrBox was gunned down in the middle of Orleans Street, Chicago police officers spoke with a friend of the man. He told them the Sept. 18, 2021, incident had begun inside the club.

Under similar circumstances, the Chicago Police Department has ordered the closings of dozens of other businesses linked to shootings.

But it didn’t shut down LiqrBox, whose clout-heavy owner runs a string of restaurants and clubs, holds the liquor license for Lollapalooza and is a political contributor to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

City officials say neither LiqrBox nor other Near North Side businesses have received preferential treatment because of their political clout or the taxes they bring in for City Hall.

And Lightfoot says her ties to Carmen Rossi, one of the club’s owners, had nothing to do with the police decision not to close the bar.

“I would never allow anyone in my administration to pull any punches based on a perceived relationship with me or with them,” Lightfoot says. “If that was the case, they would be fired immediately. I didn’t know such an establishment existed until this conversation.”

Since 2015, police department records show, at least 57 other Chicago businesses — liquor stores and bars as well as gas stations, restaurants and other establishments — have been shut down as a result of shootings under the city’s summary closure ordinance, enacted that year. The ordinance gives the police department the little-known but immense power to immediately close businesses associated with violence.

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Most of those shuttered businesses have been in low-income neighborhoods on the South Side and the West Side, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.

Despite the surge of violence that downtown Chicago has experienced in recent years, it appears from the police records that only one of the businesses the police have shut down was downtown. That was a club called Sound Bar, 226 W. Ontario St., where a security guard was killed and the owner wounded in a shooting in an alley in 2019.

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Chicago police ‘summary closures’
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Source:: Chicago Sun Times

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