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Hattiesburg City Council votes to close 2 local clubs

The Hattiesburg City Council held an executive session on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The Hattiesburg City Council held an executive session on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 8:30 PM CDT
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Two local clubs in Hattiesburg may be closed for public safety issues.

According to Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado, the Hattiesburg City Council held an executive meeting on Tuesday afternoon. At the meeting, the council discussed a motion to close Club Empire and to keep Ropers Rockin’ Country from reopening.

Delgado said the council was told both clubs were public nuisances due to the large number of police calls made about the locations.

She said that the council was told that there were about 200 police calls made about these locations over a five-year period. While she said Ropers was closed for about a year, it received about 125 calls during its time open. Club Empire, however, received around 75 calls over the full five-year period.

Delgado said she was not sure about passing the motion without getting more information about the nature of the police calls.

“I do not feel in a good conscious I could vote on this point. I have questions that I need answers to,” Delgado said.

She said the council was asked to make a resolution on the motion and a vote was held. The motion passed 4 - 1, with Delgado being the one council member to vote against the motion.

According to a post by Ropers Rockin County’s Facebook page, the establishment was set to open in October. They originally posted that the club would open in September.

On Wednesday, Sept. 22, Ward 4 Councilman Dave Ware made the following statement to WDAM about the resolutions that were passed on Tuesday, Sept. 21.

“Above all else, the safety of our citizens is our primary responsibility as a City. When a local establishment cannot provide at least some semblance of security to ensure the safety of their customers, we have an obligation (to) step in.

After the last shooting at Club Empire, I was contacted by the father of a victim and his terrifying story led me (to) look into recent events here in Hattiesburg. I asked HPD to pull a call volume record of incidents at several local establishments since 2016. For both Club Empire and Ropers (when it was open), there were approximately 200 calls across a variety of incidents (shots fired, fights, damaged property, etc.).

Conversations with HPD’s command staff helped me understand the incidents that were taking place, their diminishing effect on Hattiesburg’s quality of life and the hardships these incidents continue to place on our officers.

I am confident that the resolutions we passed last night authorizing our city attorney to file for temporary closures in Chancery Court will allow for due process to take place.

We want a thriving nightlife in Hattiesburg. But we want our residents and visitors to also feel safe when they are out. It is important we hold the businesses who operate in our community accountable in maintaining at least a minimum standard of security.”

As of Wednesday at 2 p.m., neither Club Empire nor Ropers have made a statement to WDAM about the council’s decision.

This article will be updated when more information is provided.

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