License to Ill

If there's doubt that the cabaret law is being used by the cops to shut down events at will, then a recent Brooklyn bust is further proof.

The Madagascar Institute, a collective of artists who throw renegade, fiercely creative happenings to raise funds for their art combine, got hit with a cabaret violation on Saturday, November 30, which shut them down at 2:45 a.m. The event, called "How Far Have You Fallen," showcased rides, games, DJs, and musicians. The 16,000-square-foot space, in Prospect Heights on Bergen Street and Franklin Avenue, held 1000 people comfortably, as well as a "manual" bull run by several hardworking men. Things were going smoothly until the first round of police showed up. Colleen Mulleedy, Madagascar's operations director, says the cops told her the 77th Precinct has the highest murder rate in the city, and Hackett, the Institute's director, says the officers who arrived initially told him, "You have a lot of white people in a bad neighborhood, and they are going to get robbed, raped, and beaten, and we don't want to deal with it."

"We can't determine whether or not anyone made that statement," says Detective Walter Burnes, a department spokesperson for the Deputy Commission of Public Information (DCPI). "If someone made an inappropriate remark, they [the party promoters] should have gone to the precinct and made a civilian complaint. We have no complaint at this point."

The cops parked outside the venue, and then another flotilla of police checked the permits—a one-night beer-and-wine license and a $2.5 million insurance policy.

While the party's organizers were only using a separate exit and entrance for crowd control, Mulleedy says that in the event of an emergency, there were at least 10 roll-up garage doors from which patrons could leave.

It wasn't enough. They got handed a summons to appear in court January 14 for violating the cabaret law, which requires that venues be licensed for dancing.

The event was Madagascar's sixth in roughly three years, but it was the first time they had been shut down, says Hackett.

"It was a great party until it got stopped," says Hackett. "We do things that no one else in the city does, and we'll continue to do so."


The Immigration and Naturalization Services ruled last Wednesday to deport Slick Rick, the longtime Bronx resident and legendary rapper. His ordeal started last June when he was arrested aboard a Miami cruise ship he was performing on. The rapper, whose real name is Rick Walters, is a British subject who moved to the States legally when he was 11, but never obtained U.S. citizenship.

In 1991 he was convicted of attempted murder and served time. Any noncitizen who is a convicted felon must be deported, but Walters originally received a waiver because the judge ruled that he had unusual outstanding equities—a home, and community and business ties. The INS appealed the ruling three times before winning. Apparently the law also states that if a felon has served more than five years they must be deported, and Walters had served five years and 12 days.

In June, the INS charged that Walters "deported himself" when the ship ventured to Puerto Rico, and had thus illegally re-entered the U.S. After his arrest, he was denied bail because he was deemed a flight risk, and has been in INS custody ever since.

Congressman John Conyers, dean of the Congressional Black Caucus, issued an appeal to stop the deportation. Walters's lawyers have also filed appeals at the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia, and the Southern District of New York. "The INS is [still] moving forward with the deportation," says Ben Chavis-Muhammad, the president of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network. "In the last 10 years, there's been no hearing on Slick Rick's situation. It's an administrative decision."


After a three-month hiatus, Erick Morillo's Subliminal Sessions is back on track at Discothèque, starting Thursday. In a weird twist of fate, the house party, which began five years ago, ends up at its original home. Nightcrawlers not suffering from short-term memory loss may remember that Discothèque used to be Champs, which is where the party first started. Discothèque is going all-out to welcome the Subliminal posse, beefing up the sound system and building Mr. Morillo a custom-designed DJ booth. Might he be the next diva DJ in the making? "It's not mybooth," laughed Morillo at the suggestion that he'd also have a gold toilet à la Junior Vasquez. "He's . . . let's not even go there!"


tromano@villagevoice.com

 
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