August 21, 2010
Gay activists and civil rights lawyers will go to court Thursday to try to stop the NYPD from closing Chi Chiz, a Christopher Street bar that caters to homosexual and transgendered black men.
The police claim in Manhattan Supreme Court that on four instances in a six-month period, undercover officers witnessed the sale of marijuana, cocaine and other controlled substances in the bar, which opened 12 years ago.
But Chi Chiz supporters say the crackdown's motivated by racism and homophobia in a community that's increasingly white, wealthy and worried about property values.
"These are the same people who forced the city to tear down the Women's House of Detention on Sixth Avenue and Christopher Street," activist Allen Roskoff told Page Six.
"Manhattan so-called liberals are only so when it affects others. Otherwise, they cry 'quality of life' and 'not in my neighborhood.' "
Chi Chiz's lawyer, Tom Shanahan, told Page Six the city asked the bar to make an iron-clad guarantee that no drugs would be sold or used on its premises—but Chi Chiz couldn't promise that.
"We can't guarantee that," Shanahan explained. "I said to the judge, when the city figures out how to keep drugs off Rikers Island, they can hold us to the same standard. The terms they are insisting on would put us out of business. This is what they wanted all along."
Shanahan accused undercover cops of encouraging people to go into Chi Chiz to buy drugs. "It's a set-up," he said. "It's entrapment. It's similar to what happened in the '60s to gay bookstores."
Witnesses will include Raven, a transgender Chi Chiz bartender. "She gets pulled over almost every night driving home from work for alleged prostitution," Shanahan said. "It's ridiculous.”