Wicker Park bar sues over its closure as public safety threat, says city used it as scapegoat
CHICAGO - A year after it was shut down as a public safety threat, a Wicker Park bar is suing the city claiming it was used as a scapegoat for violent crime and part of a "concerted effort" to eliminate bars with late-hour licenses.
The shutdown order was issued last winter after someone standing across the street from The Point at 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave. fired at least 10 shots into the bar, striking a man in the face, authorities said. It was the second shooting outside the bar in four months.
Days later, the business was ordered closed by Police Supt. David Brown. The Point owner Jun Lin chose to fight the shutdown order instead of agreeing to a "nuisance abatement plan."
After a months-long battle, an administrative law judge upheld the city’s action despite agreeing that the bar’s owner could not have "reasonably anticipated" the patron’s actions in the February shooting. The Point was forced to remain closed as Lin was hit with several building department violations.
The lawsuit alleges the city engaged in "punitive, retaliatory and harassing conduct," and calls on the court to stop the city from "continuing their malicious and dogged attempts" to prevent The Point from re-opening.
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Lin has previously accused the city of using his business as scapegoat, blaming him for the failure of police to address violence.
Closing down bars following incidents of crime near or around the property sets a dangerous precedent, according to Lin. "It’s the perpetrator that should be punished," Lin told the Sun-Times in July, "not the innocent business that the city — through this investigation — could not prove one thing we did wrong."
The lawsuit also alleges the shutdown is part of a concerted effort by the city to close late night bars and restaurants. The Point’s license allowed it to remain open until 5 a.m. He is seeking relief for all lost income and a court order "enjoining the City from engaging in the retaliatory practices."
A Sun-Times investigation found that while the city works quickly to shut down establishments on the South and West sides following incidents of violence, it tends to go easy on clout-heavy bars in the downtown area.
Since 2015, police department records show, at least 58 Chicago businesses — liquor stores and bars as well as gas stations, restaurants and other establishments —were shut down as a result of shootings under the city’s summary closure ordinance, enacted that same year.
Records show only one bar, Sound Bar at 226 W. Ontario in the downtowns area, was shut down following a shooting.
The shooting that led to closing of The Point happened near closing time on Feb. 6, 2022. A patron entered The Point with three other men. They were patted down, checked with a handheld metal detector and their IDs were scanned, the lawsuit said.
The group left about 4:50 a.m. About 15 minutes later, one of the men stood across the street and fired into the bar . Months earlier, four people exchanged gunfire outside the bar on a busy Milwaukee Avenue, leaving one dead and wounding four bystanders.