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Carbondale | Human Relations Commission
Carbondale hip-hop venue owner shut down by cops brings concerns to Human Relations Commission

CARBONDALE — After an all-ages hip-hop show was broken up by Carbondale police officers last month, Miles Davis, who runs Autopsy Sound, on Monday told the city's Human Relations Commission he is concerned about the incident.

Davis, a 24-year-old black business owner, told the HRC about previous concerts he has had at his Autopsy store front — ones the city seemed to know about — that did not get much attention.

However, on Jan. 25, after an article ran in The Southern about him and his business enterprise, something changed. That night, police officers came, Davis said, and asked him a lot of questions: Are you selling alcohol? Do you have a license?

The answer to both was “no.” In turn, the police shut him down. He said it seemed like they were searching for any reason to shut the show down before landing on the licensing issue.

Davis said he and his mother — who was collecting cover charge at the door — asked about a citation instead. The officers who responded told them that a citation could prevent Davis from getting an entertainment license in the future.

However, Davis said City Manager Gary Williams told him that’s not the case.

Davis said he was deeply embarrassed having to hand out refunds to kids, and wait with them for their parents to come pick them up. He said he’s not sure if he’ll be able to regain the trust of the kids or their parents to keep the venue moving forward.

Davis went on to tell the HRC that over that weekend, Williams and Building and Neighborhood Services Supervisor John Lenzini came to apologize.

“I’ve never heard of that happening before,” Jerrold Hennrich, chairman of the HRC, said.

Davis said Williams apologized because he had asked the police chief in a phone call not to shut the show down, saying that they would handle it another way. However, communication broke down.

A series of emails obtained by The Southern through the Freedom of Information Act show some of the behind-the-scenes conversation.

Police Chief Jeff Grubbs emailed Williams and City Attorney Jamie Snyder on Jan. 24, pointing out The Southern’s profile of Davis.

“We are not opposed to what the operator indicates his plan is in the article,” Grubbs wrote. However, he said Davis would be operating without the proper license. Grubbs asked the two officials how to proceed.

“Let’s get contact information for him so we can reach out to him prior to having to initiate legal action,” Snyder wrote back at 10:07 a.m. that day.

Williams echoed that tone.

“Let’s contact him and be friendly in our notification that he needs to be approved as an entertainment club,” Williams said. “Sounds like what he is doing is well intended. His mom is even working the door.”

Williams later replied saying he had spoken to Lenzini, who said he knew Davis. He planned to reach out to him. Lenzini previously told The Southern that he had left his business card in Davis’ door.

Davis told the HRC he spoke with Williams on Monday and would be granted a free entertainment license, but he said he is now going to be limited as to how old his patrons are — he said Williams told him that he could have either a teen club or an 18 and up club.

However, section 5-11-4 of the city code provides a definition of a combination teen and adult club.

“It doesn’t say that anywhere,” Hennrich said after reviewing the code’s age restrictions language.

All who spoke in response to Davis’ story were enthusiastic about his idea.

“Kudos to you, you’ve got their attention,” Michelle Snyder said to Davis. 

She went on to say that as a business owner, he should have done his research before embarking on the venture.

Father Joseph Brown agreed to a point; if the code says he needs a license, he needs one. However, he understood why Davis felt blindsided.

“Nobody said let’s walk together on it,” Brown said, adding that there are avenues that are supposed to help new business owners find themselves on the right side of city policy.

Mayoral-hopeful Nathan Colombo has long been an ally of Davis and spoke on his behalf. He pointed out what some called the “elephant in the room.”

He said he has seen many larger, predominantly white entertainment events held both at The Varsity Center and at other venues in town with a smaller police presence than what he has seen show up for Davis’ relatively small concerts.

During Lit Fest, a hip-hop showcase at The Varsity that Davis organized, Colombo said he saw a group of police officers across the street from the theater, something he’s not seen for other well-attended events there.

When staff asked why they were there, Colombo told the commission that officers said it was because of large turnout.

Davis said he’s seen similar police turnout at his previous shows.

Commissioner Dora Weaver asked the question: “Are you being racially targeted?”

Davis said he thought it could be that, but wasn’t entirely sure. He mostly just wanted the commission to hear his complaints and look further into this possibility or find out why his event and not other, similar events all over town that weekend weren’t shut down.

Colombo put it simply.

“We just want to know why,” he said. He said a direct question might be a good option for the commission.

Brown cautioned at this, saying that a reductionist approach would be best — exhaust all the other possibilities first and see “what’s leftover.” Being too blunt, Brown said, can simply shut the conversation down.

At the end of the discussion, Hennrich suggested the forming of a subcommittee, but there were no votes for the matter. So, he said they would continue to deal with the matter off the record.

— Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correctly spell Jerrold Hennrich's name.


Siu
top story
SIU Carbondale
SIU Carbondale kicks off annual international fest with parade of flags

CARBONDALE — Bearing the flags of their home countries, dozens of international students and professors marched through the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus Monday, smiling, hugging and taking selfies.

GABRIEL NEELY-STREIT The Southern 

A participant takes a selfie during the SIU International Parade of Flags Monday on the SIU Carbondale campus.

The flag parade is a yearly reminder of the diversity of Southern Illinois and SIUC, which educates students from about 100 countries, according to Interim Chancellor John Dunn.

"A university cannot be a truly great university unless it's an international university," Dunn told students after the parade. "Thank you for sharing your cultures, your languages, your knowledge and who you are."

GABRIEL NEELY-STREIT The Southern 

Holding an Indonesian flag, participants take a selfie during the SIU International Parade of Flags, Monday, on the SIU Carbondale campus.

For Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry, who studied engineering at SIUC, the university provided his first real exposure to people of other ethnicities, religions and skin colors, he said, something he's extremely grateful for.

Some countries had just a single representative — Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and South Africa among them — while others, like the Panama contingent, were out in force, setting the march's pace with national cheers, songs and soccer chants.

GABRIEL NEELY-STREIT The Southern 

Dozens of international students and faculty marched across the SIU Carbondale campus Monday during the SIUC International Parade of Flags.

International students make up about 10 percent of the SIUC student body. They are especially important to the university's doctoral programs, earning 50 percent of all the Ph.D.s granted at SIUC.

The International Festival celebrations continue with the International Food Fair from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at the SIU Student Center.


Washington
AP
Trump to call for unity, face skepticism in State of Union

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Donald Trump will call for optimism and unity in today's State of the Union address, using the moment to attempt a reset after two years of bitter partisanship and deeply personal attacks.

But will anyone buy it?

Skepticism will emanate from both sides of the aisle when Trump enters the House chamber for the primetime address to lawmakers and the nation. Democrats, emboldened after the midterm elections and the recent shutdown fight, see little evidence of a president willing to compromise. And even the president's staunchest allies know that bipartisan rhetoric read off a teleprompter is usually undermined by scorching tweets and unpredictable policy maneuvers.

Still, the fact that Trump's advisers feel a need to try a different approach is a tacit acknowledgment that the president's standing is weakened as he begins his third year in office.

The shutdown left some Republicans frustrated over his insistence on a border wall, something they warned him the new Democratic House majority would not bend on. Trump's approval rating during the shutdown dipped to 34 percent, down from 42 percent a month earlier, according to a recent survey conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said the president would use his address "to call for an end to the politics of resistance, retribution."

"He's calling for cooperation," she said, adding that Trump will point to examples of where this has happened on his watch. Officials said the president also is expected to highlight infrastructure, trade and prescription drug pricing as areas in which the parties could work together.

But Washington's most recent debate offered few signs of cooperation between Trump and Democrats. Under pressure from conservative backers, Trump refused to sign a government funding bill that did not include money for his long-sought border wall. With hundreds of thousands of Americans missing paychecks, Trump ultimately agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow negotiations on border security to continue.

With the new Feb. 15 funding deadline looming, Trump is expected to use his address to outline his demands, which still include funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He's teased the possibility of declaring a national emergency to secure wall funding if Congress doesn't act, though it appeared unlikely he would take that step Tuesday night. Advisers also have been reviewing options to secure some funding without making such a declaration.

"You'll hear the State of the Union, and then you'll see what happens right after the State of the Union," Trump told reporters.

The president's address marks the first time he is speaking before a Congress that is not fully under Republican control. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who won plaudits from Democrats for her hard-line negotiating tactics during the shutdown, will be seated behind the president — a visual reminder of Trump's political opposition.

In the audience will be several Democrats running to challenge Trump in 2020, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Another Democratic star, Stacey Abrams, will deliver the party's response to Trump. Abrams narrowly lost her bid in November to become Georgia's first black governor, and party leaders are aggressively recruiting her to run for Senate.

While White House officials cautioned that Trump's remarks were still being finalized, the president was expected to use some of his televised address to showcase a growing economy. Despite the shutdown, the U.S. economy added a robust 304,000 jobs in January, marking 100 straight months of job growth. That's the longest such period on record.

Trump and his top aides also hinted that he is likely to use the address to announce a major milestone in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Despite the objections of some advisers, Trump announced in December that he was withdrawing U.S. forces in Syria.

In a weekend interview with CBS, Trump said efforts to defeat the IS group were "at 99 percent right now. We'll be at 100."


Crime-and-courts
Franklin County
Franklin County Sheriff investigating death of Buckner man reported missing Jan. 23

BUCKNER — More details have come to light in the disappearance and discovery of a Buckner man who was reported missing last month.

Body of missing Buckner man located in Franklin County

The body of 42-year-old Allen K. Woolard was located Saturday morning, Feb. 2, 2019, in a rural area of the Village of Buckner by members of the Southern Illinois Search Team, according to a press release from Franklin County Sheriff David Bartoni. Sheriff deputies received a call that the team had located his body at 11:17 a.m.

A Saturday news release from Franklin County Sheriff Dave Bartoni announced that the body of 42-year-old Alan Woolard had been found by a member of the Southern Illinois Search Team. Woolard was last seen alive around 11:30 a.m. Jan. 23, walking away from his residence in Buckner.

Bartoni said he was found approximately 250 to 300 yards from where he last was seen — he was found in a hole or pit behind a residence in town.

Previous search efforts just weren’t “looking in the right places,” Bartoni said of earlier, failed attempts to find Woolard.

Last week, a news release from Bartoni’s office said several drug arrests were made at a residential police stop related to Woolard’s disappearance. On Monday, Bartoni said that was not the residence where Woolard was later found.

“We were looking for associates to interview when the drug activity was observed,” Bartoni said in a text message.

An autopsy was scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday and Bartoni said, unless the coroner finds evidence of a physical wound on Woolard’s body, it could be weeks before a cause of death is determined.

It is too early to make any suppositions about what happened to Woolard; Bartoni said authorities will “let the evidence lead the investigation.”

While Woolard was no stranger to law enforcement — court records show a lengthy list of misdemeanors and felonies dating back to 2001, including battery and criminal trespassing — Bartoni said he heard nothing but good things about him during the investigation. People told Bartoni that Woolard was a likable guy, something Bartoni said is evident by the number of people who came out to help look for him.