EAST ST. LOUIS, IL. (KPLR) - After months of debate, bars and nightclubs in East St. Louis will soon be forced to close earlier than they do now. The city council voted move the shut down time back to 3am from the current 6am mandated close.
Talk of crime, corruption, violence and murder often accompany discussion of East St. Louis’ night spots. Many in the city feel that allowing the clubs to stay open nearly all night has contributed to the violent crime rate here.
City councilwoman Emeka Jackson-Hicks is the member who proposed the change in hours. After fierce opposition from Mayor Alvin Parks, she finally got her way.
“We are really looking forward to more public safety in our community and this is just one small step toward getting there. Just limiting the hours won’t be enough, but it’s a start to help us with public safety,” she said in an interview at her home Friday night.
Mayor Parks says he’s “past it” regarding the long political struggle over the hour’s issue. He argued all along that closing up early would hurt businesses and tax revenues. Now he says it’s time to adjust.
“We’ve just come to accept it. We’re gonna support that law and enforce it as much as possible.”
He does say adjustments will have to be made by police to handle the new closing time. Right now patrons trickle out a few at a time between 3 and 6 in the morning. Now there will be a rush of people leaving all at once. It begs the question; will all those people pouring into parking lots at once create an unintended consequence? More violence.
“There’s gonna be a little more onus on the club owners and tavern owners making sure people are getting where they need to get safely,” Parks said. “They have that responsibility anyway, but when you have so many people exiting now at all the same time you know there’s gonna be a far greater concentration of people.”
The new rules go into effect on July 1st, and Jackson-Hicks believes there will be positive results.
“I think it will help with some of the violence that has occurred. Particularly in the morning hours. We’ve had many lives taken and there’s no price on life. So we just hope to save some lives and prevent some trafficking that has taken place from different cities at that time.