City councillor calls bar violence 'an epidemic'
Published Sunday, June 13, 2010 6:54PM MDT
Ben Henderson likens violence in Edmonton to a disease that's spreading far too quickly.
Just one day after he warned more nightclubs could be have their licences pulled if they remain magnets for crime, another stabbing at a late-night venue has landed a man in hospital.
"We seem to have created a culture where this kind of violence and those kinds of weapons going with that kind of violence are becoming frighteningly acceptable," he said at the Mayor's Pride Brunch on Sunday.
"It worries me. It feels like this is becoming an epidemic and an epidemic is a disease. We have to figure out what that disease is about and start dealing with it."
Henderson made the comments after hearing a man was stabbed several times at the Crown Bar at 109th Street and 107th Avenue early Sunday morning.
Police say the victim got into an argument around midnight before entering the bar. When he left the venue around 2 a.m. it's believed he ran into friends of the male he had been fighting with, who beat him and stabbed him in the chest as many as six times.
The grizzly incident comes just one day after three people were stabbed in and around the Iron Horse Nightclub off Whyte Avenue, and just one week after police responded to one shooting at a downtown club that sent two people to the emergency.
A representative from the Edmonton Police Service Safety Compliance Team, which played a role in shutting down Twilight Lounge and Gingur Sky Lounge, says there needs to be a major shift in how nightclubs are run.
"We need to get together and get back to what the industry was meant to be and that was just for a social, safe space for people to go and enjoy themselves," said Nicole Chapdelaine.
"There is a mentality that people can go out there and do this and get away with it, making the whole industry itself seem unsafe."
She says finding a solution will require collaboration among a number of parties – the city, province, bar operators and patrons.
While no meetings are planned to address the overriding issue, the head of the Safety Compliance Team says there is a meeting planned for Monday where officials will "make some tough decisions about what to do with the Iron Horse."
The future of that nightclub remains uncertain after Saturday morning's multiple stabbings and an April shooting where no one was injured.
As for Sunday morning's stabbing, police say the victim was in serious condition when he was rushed to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, but his condition has since stabilized.
Police have interviewed several witnesses and are looking for a Sudanese male who was wearing a red shirt as a person of interest. No suspects are currently in custody.