“They’re not knuckleheads when they’re shooting and killing people,” says Rockford’s 5th Ward alderman, Venita Hervey, speaking on the recent shootings at hotels.
She says that, under the guise of a birthday party or special event, private citizens will book hotel rooms, or conference centers, for parties, and then institute a cover charge and advertise publicly, across the region.
“[They’re] what I call a pop-up nightclub,” she said. “We don’t have the permanent structures, because we destroyed those, and no one wants to open one.”
She says Rockford’s black community lacks entertainment venues, but there’s a reason for that void.
Some local nightclubs have been closed by the city, citing repeated police calls for violence at the location or in the vicinity.
“We would have the nightclubs, we would have the bars… if people respected the venue and the rules of socialization,” Hervey says.
Two recent shootings have occurred at local hotels, including an incident in the Cliffbreakers parking lot this past Sunday, and the shooting death of Marcello Brown was shot and killed at a birthday party being held at Clock Tower on October 14th.
Hervey says African Americans are responsible for many of the pop up nightclubs in the area, and that hotels need to be more selective who they rent out space to.
“People would say it’s racist, [that] the city is only going after the black nightclubs, but the white nightclubs, they get into fights all the time,” said Hervey. “And I said yes, but they don’t shoot each other. You don’t have the gun play, and that’s the difference. They bring their guns because they either anticipate trouble, or they’re going to cause trouble.”