I can't say I am terribly surprised that the Chuns were denied a beer license for their would be convenient store. The city's effort to transform Sixth St into an artist haven has failed miserably. A few art shops have moved from 6th to Main Street and those that remain on 6th appear to be on life support. Meanwhile, 6th has been slowly becoming a night life destination, especially with the opening of Park 6. And with that has come problems.
So it was not surprising that the only significant opposition to the beer license came from a handful of merchants and shopkeepers. No doubt they have been affected by misbehaving bar patrons and they have had enough.
But I believe that there is more to their opposition than this. I strongly suspect that the perception, if not the reality, is that Park 6 customers are primarily responsible for an increase in obnoxious behavior. And for those of you that are not familiar with Park 6, it is a dance club that, on weekend nights at least, is packed with black people.
Now just to be very clear, I am NOT suggesting that opponents of the Chuns are racists. What I am suggesting is that there may well exist a correlation between black people/alcohol/dance music and misbehavior that is significantly higher than, say, a correlation between octogenarians/tea/bingo and misbehavior. So the merchants are trying to prevent badly behaving people from coming in to the neighborhood. It just so happens that they worried that the future customers of the Chuns would be of the troublemaking variety, like they see in Park 6 customers.
I have been to numerous alcohol licensing meetings and it is quite amusing to watch. Would be applicants must talk in code. They say things like "Ours will be a high end establishment. We won't become a hip hop club" or "We won't sell 40 ounce cans of Malt Liquor." I wish one of them would come out and tell the committee exactly what the committee seemingly wants to hear, something like "You can be damned sure that I will actively discourage young black people from entering my establishment."
The problem I have with the alcohol licensing process is that, in an attempt to preempt problems, the city in effect quietly discriminates against a whole goup of people, in this case young black people. And while there is arguably a strong correlation between dance clubs and misbehavior, it is entirely unfair to the majority of black people who go to clubs and who behave themselves.
Rather than discriminate against young black people who like to drink beer or listen to rap music, the city should instead focus on the smaller group of people, whatever their color, that misbehave. Let people drink beer and listen to music. And let us also lower our tolerance for bad behavior.