Blog Archive

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Club Caliente Owner Cries Racial Profiling As Cops Make Case To Punish Him

By Lauren Smiley
December 1, 2009
San Francisco Weekly

The Entertainment Commission will review Club Caliente's entertainment permit at its meeting this afternoon after the SoMa bar was busted three times in recent months for having minors on the premises.

The club's owner, Maurice Salinas, is alleging racial profiling, "intimidation and harassment" by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) and the San Francisco Police Department, after officers performed a "raid" on the club to check for ID's. Salinas says that the bar's mostly Latino clientele has been scared away by the false rumor that Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided the bar.

"I feel that my business has been ruined as the results of these raids and it is being profiled for catering to the Latino community," he writes in a press release.
According to Salinas, an ABC agent and San Francisco Police partner found minors on the premises three times this fall:

* On Sunday, October 18, the bar was cited for having a minor inside, who told the officers he was underage and had no identification. Salinas said the bar found a California driver's license of a similar looking person who was over 21 years old, and believes the person had thrown it on the floor when the police came up to him to avoid the repercussions of using a fake ID.

* On Saturday, November 14, the bar was again cited for having a minor inside after a patron was caught with a fake City College ID that indicated he was over 21.

* On Sunday, November 15, the same ABC agent and officer called for police backup, and some customers, including ones whose "physical appearance indicated that they were 30 years old or older," were ordered to stand against the wall outside the club, and eventually released. Apparently, patrons inside thought it was an Immigration raid, and some were "in tears," according to Salinas. The authorities found one person who used his 22-year-old brother's Mexican Consulate ID to get in and cited the bar for having a minor on the premises.

Salinas says the police officer told him that only California IDs are valid forms of ID to get into a bar. If so, the officer was incorrect. State law defines a valid ID as any issued by a federal, state, county or municipal government that includes a photo, name, date of birth, physical description, and is currently valid.

Salinas claims that security staff talked to the officer about the door policy, but the officer yelled at them to be quiet and threatened to take them to jail.

ABC spokesman John Carr confirmed the three citations, but declined to comment further on the case. He said that Club Caliente had no disciplinary history before this fall.

Salinas says the bar closed down early at 11 p.m. on Sunday November 15 -- the day after the large-scale ID checks by the authorities -- after no one showed up. The club usually draws 150 patrons on Sunday nights, he added.

"I feel that I am being treated differently," Salinas wrote in the release, "and that [the police officer] would not act in the same way at a club with a white...ownership and clientele, intimidating the service staff and putting all the customers against the outside wall of buildings to check on their age and/or proof of ID."