CARBONDALE — Things were stopped before they even got started Friday at Autopsy in Carbondale.
Miles Davis had cleared space in his small boutique street wear clothing store directly across from Carbondale City Hall to make space for one of its regular music showcases — this one for an all ages crowd. There’s no beer sold or allowed in. Just kids looking for music on a Friday night.
Lil’ Cactus was scheduled to perform in the intimate space. As the doors opened at 8 p.m., Davis’ mom was there to sell tickets.
But within an hour, the fun was over.
Davis said Carbondale Police officers came to shut the show down, citing orders from the city. He didn’t have an entertainment license.
Security camera footage shared with The Southern showed about 10 people on the dance floor at 8:03 p.m., not long before police arrived.
On Monday, Davis spoke with The Southern and said he had a lot of questions. The biggest one was why now? Davis said he’s had several, similar events and even seen officers posted across the street, but never has there been any trouble.
Davis said he felt a bit singled out.
“There was another event, there were one or two other events that were happening at the same time as me,” Davis said. “Why did they come to me?”
On Thursday, The Southern published an article featuring Davis and his Autopsy business enterprise — he runs the clothing store as well as a recording studio, and represents musical artists under the Autopsy brand.
In the story, the 24-year-old entrepreneur talked about his dream for Carbondale and his place in it. He said he was working hard to develop relationships with parents and city officials to offer a safe place for kids younger than 18 to come and have something to do. He said there’s been dozens of enthusiastic kids and their parents packed into his shows having a good time.
Miles Davis’ enterprise likely won’t make sense to people of a certain generation, but it makes perfect sense to him and his peers.
Davis said Friday he had to turn on the lights and hand out refunds to all the kids after he and his mom finished talking with the police. Then they had to wait to make sure parents came to pick their kids up.
Now, he’s not even sure what the future is for these shows, which he said he holds to pay his store’s rent, utilities and even some of its stock.
He said the incident has cost him a lot of the hard-fought trust he's developed with the parents of his customers.
“What parent of a teenager, regardless of what happened, are going to let their kid go back to another Autopsy (event)?,” Davis said.
“This is something that shouldn’t have happened,” said John Lenzini, the city’s Building and Neighborhood Services supervisor.
Lenzini said he has known Davis for years and said he did his best to get in touch with Davis on Friday — he left a card in the door of his business. He said word about the show floated around City Hall after Thursday's story was published.
Lenzini said if he had Davis' cell phone number, or if Davis had called him, he would have told officers to stand down.
City Manager Gary Williams said the edict to shut the show down did not come from him.
“I directed staff and I directed the police department in particular to not shut him down until we had worked through getting his license worked out,” he said. Williams said Monday he was still waiting on reports about the incident to piece together what happened.
Police Chief Jeff Grubbs directed questions about the events Friday to Williams and declined to discuss what he said could be an ongoing investigation regarding the stop officers made to Autopsy on Friday night.
Williams and Lenzini both said technically Davis was in the wrong — he needed to have the entertainment license as outlined in section 5.11 of the city’s code. But, both said it could have been handled differently.
“What he was doing seemed pretty harmless,” Williams said Monday.
When asked why other similar parties weren’t shut down that night, Williams denied knowing of any others.
“I’m unaware of any other locations doing something similar,” he said, adding that “we don’t selectively enforce ordinances.”
Williams and Lenzini made it a point to visit Davis’ shop Saturday.
“We expressed our apologies,” he said, adding that the talk went well.
Williams said they talked about how to move forward and getting Davis the proper license.
“These are the types of things we want to encourage in Carbondale,” Williams said.
“He’s really the kind of person we want,” Lenzini said.
Williams said he hopes to be meeting with Davis this week to get his license settled and to talk with him about how to rewrite part of the entertainment code.
Lenzini weighed in on this, too.
“I think we need to make it more workable,” he said of the current entertainment ordinance.
Davis said he doesn’t want to make waves or create enemies within the city — he knows the benefit of having a good relationship with City Hall. But he said he was still frustrated.
He looks forward to sitting down with Williams and others this week but isn’t sure what to do in the meantime. Other events he had planned are on hold until he knows where he stands.