I just got this message from Robert Ziegler, the owner/manager of Boots and
Saddle, the long-running bar at 76 Christopher Street.
“In the past year or so, the street has become a very violent place and a haven for drug dealers, hustlers, thugs and thieves.
“This has only increased with the closing of the gay bar Chi-Chiz, which was located a few blocks west of us. The business owners, patrons and homeowners here are getting to the end of their ropes. We are appalled with the lack of response from the local police and their absence from the streets.
“Even when they are present, their lack of action is unbelievable. Recently, during one of my frequent visits to the precinct to plead for help, I was told that Christopher Street was ‘dead.’
“On another visit, I was told if I wanted to do something, I should get the names of drug
dealers and call them with the information.
“We have even gone so far as to have a march last October to try and end the violence here, which was covered by you and other news stations. However things just continue to get progressively worse.
“From about 7pm until sunrise, the unsavory street crowds are ever present. Our bar staff is scared to leave at closing, as they are frequently threatened. Our customers are often equally frightened, and many homeowners on the street do not leave their homes after dark.
“Please do what you can to help this historic area become a safe place again, through whatever coverage you can give us.”
I asked Ziegler, “But wasn’t there tons of police presence when they were surveilling Chi Chiz last year and trying to close it (which they did) and everyone cried racism and homophobia? Now there’s none?”
“The community and the police department wanted Chi-Chiz closed, that’s why there was a heavy police presence. Now the police and community have vanished and have left the bar owners and store owners to their own defenses.
“Now we have heavy gang and street kids, hustlers and drug dealers roaming the streets terrorizing the bars, residents and local merchants.”