Church to city: Sick of bar scene
Wednesday, July 10, 2013 1:00 AM
The pastor and several members of Goodway Baptist Church pleaded with the Philadelphia Mayor and Board of Aldermen to increase police protection in their neighborhood along Atkins Street where two men were shot recently outside a nearby popular gathering place known as Curlee's.
Pastor A. C. Rush and others displayed several beer and liquor bottles on a mat in the boardroom, telling aldermen that they were picked up in the church's parking lot.
He said the bottles and cans were "proof" of what was going on at the establishment, which is owned by Curlee Connors.
In July 2011, Rush and other members of the church appeared before the Board of Aldermen, complaining about activity at the nearby gathering place and subsequent crime in the area.
"We were here in 2011," Rush said, "and a few things got handled for a little while and then somebody dropped the ball."
The pastor told aldermen that Connors had no respect for the community or the church.
"With all the things he allows to go on at his place across the street from the church, we as men and as a community, we are tired of it. We are sick of it."
Rush said the recent shootings were not the first.
"Some have gotten killed there," he said. "Their blood was in our church parking lot."
Jerry Smith told aldermen that in the wake of the 2011 meeting, church members erected no parking signs on their property. Signs were also erected on the street.
"You promised to ticket and tow illegally parked cars," Smith said. "It hasn't happened. You dropped the ball."
Ward 4 Alderman Cecil Nichols, who represents the area where the church is located, said officers did increase patrol in the area after the 2011 meeting and tried to stop motorists from parking on the street.
Nichols said the "ruckus" stopped for a while.
He pledged to do his part to curtail crime in the area within the means of law.
His pledge, however, drew a response from Rush, who told Mayor James A. Young directly that Nichols and another alderman were aware of what goes on at Connor's place.
"Mayor, I don't know what goes on," Rush said. "I haven't been in there. If anything illegal is going on in there, then it ought to be stopped."
Nichols told Rush that Connors was his friend.
"I'm not denying that I've visited him," Nichols said. "I don't hide it. I don't park in the road."
Young told the group that the city had "dropped the ball" when it came to enforcing parking alongside Atkins Street.
He told church members that police could have vehicles towed from the street.
"When we take on this battle that you are asking us to do on a Friday, Saturday night - no matter whose car - it's going to get towed. I'm ready to take the heat."
He encouraged church members to join hands with the city.
"We want the assurance that we are going to get the backing from the community when we move forward," Young said. "You want it for safety. I've been in that community all my life. There's been a lot of bloodshed on that street.
"There are several young men with scars just from passing by or stopping there with things going on not only there, but also in other areas. When we tighten the screws, please don't back away."