In the past week or so I have talked to numerous "deciders" of the fate of Park 6 owner Thomas Holmes and his liquor license. I will concede that the city has a very tricky problem on their hands. Among the problems is that Holmes himself has not been accused of any violations of liquor or other laws. Even so, Holmes may lose his liquor license because of problems that his customers are causing in and around the bar. Almost without fail, the "deciders" note that Holmes is literally inviting trouble to his bar and the area via his marketing efforts, and that this is enough of a reason to revoke his license. Ultimately though, it is not who you market to that matters but who shows up, and it is rather obvious that the "deciders" are not altogether thrilled with Holmes' clientele. For the record, the "deciders" have a point here, as Park 6 customers are a drain on the city's police resources. Here is why I have a problem with some of the "deciders": they don't like Holmes' customers but they won't publicly define and identify the people they consider problematic. The reason is rather obvious because the problematic customers (as well as the benign ones) are virtually all black. If the city were to create an ordinance wherein they attempted to identify and define the type of people that they don't want in or around Racine bars, well, we all know that this would soon be national news and the City of Racine would be slapped with a discrimination lawsuit by the federal government. So instead the city is using liquor license leverage to hand the problem over to the bar owners. Instead of having an official city policy that requires bars to refuse "problematic/often black" customers, the city has a wink wink nudge nudge policy that requires bars to discriminate or lose their license. If I were Holmes, I would argue that the city has created a de facto policy that requires bar owners to discriminate against "problematic" customers, many or all of whom are black. The city is putting bar owners in an impossible position. If they refuse to serve a thuggish looking black person, they risk getting sued. If they serve thuggish looking people and said thugs cause problems, they risk losing their liquor license.
A better approach in my view would be to partner with bars in fighting crime. Don't penalize bars for the crimes committed by customers. Crack down on people who commit crimes, not on those that serve them. And lastly, recognize that there is no utopian solution to this problem. If you close down one bar, the people causing problems will simply move on and cause problems at the next one.