If you have ever been around the Theater District when the clubs let out, you know it can be pretty crazy. Thousands of people pour onto the streets, and since by 2:00 am the T has already gone to bed, everyone is left to walk home or try and find a cab.
This has been the setting for numerous violent altercations, including stabbings, shootings, fights, brawls, and general mayhem. This violence needs to end, and this has been made all the more clear by the recent death of Stephen Perez, Jr. who had recently returned from serving with the US Army in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perez was shot and killed last Saturday night in the Theater District after leaving one of the nightclubs in the area. Obviously this violence is a problem that needs to be addressed, and City Hall is already addressing the problem.
Their solution? Make the clubs close at midnight instead of 2:00 am.
This would let patrons of the clubs hop on the T, yeah, but it’s still going to be a mess when everyone leaves. And now, instead of getting kicked out at 2:00 am, people will be booted 2 hours earlier. Crime doesn’t only happen at 2:00 am.
What’s so frustrating about this idea of having the clubs close earlier is that it’s a punitive measure, designed to punish the owners of the clubs when they are not the ones ultimately responsible for what happens outside of their clubs after closing time. There are bigger issues that need to be addressed, and instead they are being ignored.
Part of the reason these clubs are all so packed with people is that there are so few of them. If the city made it a little easier for people to start other clubs, the crowds would be a little more spread out. People want to be out until 2:00 am and later, but there aren’t a lot of places in Boston where you can do that. If we let these clubs and other bars and nightspots throughout the city stay open past 2:00 am, the crowds would be thinned out even more.
We applaud City Hall for actively trying to solve this problem, but we are disappointed that their solution looks like it’s going to take the form of a punitive action against the clubs themselves. Can these institutions do more to try and keep things calm when they close? Maybe, but the problem is bigger than that. The huge crowds offer anonymity for individuals looking to get away with something, even if they weren’t at the club themselves.
Boston needs to move forward, and this proposed solution would be a step back. Forcing thousands of people onto the streets two hours earlier than normal and way earlier than they want to leave the bar or club isn’t the solution we need. We need our civic leaders to work to address this violence at its roots.
We need to take an honest look at what the real driving forces are behind the violence that always seems to accompany closing time around the clubs in the theater district and then work to address it, not automatically assume it’s because they are open until 2:00 am.
Last time we checked, guns are just as deadly at midnight as they are at 2:00 am.