EAST ST. LOUIS, ILLINOIS, (KTVI) - Wednesday morning, pastors in East St. Louis, Illinois told Senator Dick Durbin they are tired of burying young people killed at the city's nightclubs and bars. The senator called for the clubs to close earlier. Mayor Alvin parks said no. But, residents at the meeting said their voices were getting drowned out by the debate.
In East St. Louis Wednesday morning, Senator Dick Durbin met with the New Salem Baptist District Association, law enforcement, clergy and residents discussed violent crime in the city.
Mayor Alvin Parks was not invited.
"This was a meeting of people who were interested in sending a message to Mayor Parks,' Durbin explained.
The two are in a bitter and public debate over last call at area bars and nightclubs. Mayor parks said 1 a.m. is late enough. But after a 23-year-old was shot to death outside Club 103 in March and two men were wounded that same weekend at nearby Club Flava, Durbin called for an 11 o'clock closing time on weeknights.
"We have got to close these clubs at a reasonable hour to stop the crime and violence that is taking over this city,' Durbin demanded.
Police Chief Michael Floore said no matter what time the clubs close, his police force of only 46 officers is not enough to keep law and order.
"I want to also add this,' Durbin said. 'If the clubs weren't open until 6 o'clock in the morning, you wouldn't need as many cops on the street until 6 o'clock in the morning."
Mayor Parks said those same clubs bring desperately needed tax revenue that could be lost if patrons went elsewhere for a later closing time.
"Does the mayor not understand that you are not going to attract a new business here with new jobs paying into this city if it's placed in someplace that is unsafe to live or to work?' Durbin asked.
A lot of citizens came to the meeting hoping to heard, instead, they came out of the meeting feeling ignored.
"If they close the club at 11 o'clock, and then there's still violence what are they going to come up with then?" asked Bernadette Bowen. The 53-year-old said she was frustrated she did not get to speak during the question-and-answer period following Durbin’s remarks.
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