Static: Wednesday, October 22, 2008
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Bullies on the Bricks?

Stockyards entrepreneurs are complaining about the smell of bull manure, and not the kind that goes splat on the bricks during cattle drives. They say the smell is wafting from the Fort Worth Police Department. Mike Costanza is a property owner who leases to Club La Rumba, a Hispanic dance club next to Billy Bob’s Texas. The large number of Fort Worth police officers hovering around the entrances at La Rumba and a couple of other clubs is intimidating customers and hurting business, he said. So he’s taken a path most trodden in this tech-savvy era and posted videos on YouTube. Costanza’s surveillance cameras show streams of police officers coming and going at La Rumba and nearby Neon Moon Saloon — as many as 18 officers at once — even though nobody at the clubs was seeking assistance at the time, he said.
The videos begin with, “When is too many police officers harassment? Two, four, eight, 12 — how about 18! No arrest. No trouble. You decide.” You can find the videos on YouTube by searching “Fort Worth Stockyards.”
Costanza blames the heavy police scrutiny on discrimination — the old-school Stockyards cowboy contingent envisions crowds of bling-flashing, droopy-drawered Latinos hip-hopping around honkytonk central, and so they get police to crack down and run them out of business, he said. (Fort Worth Weekly examined this topic in “Fo’ Shizzle, Pardner,” Aug. 16, 2006).
La Rumba owners “aren’t doing anything wrong and have implemented every policy the police have asked them to, but they can’t change the color of their skin,” Costanza said. “This is the last minority club left” in the Stockyards.
Police spokesman Lt. Paul Henderson said the city is pursuing a nuisance abatement lawsuit against Costanza because of troubles at La Rumba. He wouldn’t comment because of pending litigation.
Costanza said La Rumba’s owners jump through hoops to comply with police requests. “If I see [La Rumba owners and customers] breaking the law, I will shut them down, but when I watch those videotapes, I don’t see it. I see a lot of abuses from the city’s side.”
Neon Moon owner Darren Rhea said the police presence can be oppressive. “There are massive amounts of cops and patrol cars here all the time, and it’s spooking our customers,” he said. “They got all these cops eyeballing everybody walking around, but there’s nothing [illegal] going on down here.”
Rhea filed a lawsuit against the city for police harassment several years ago. That case was settled out of court.
Costanza said he hopes the YouTube videos rouse Fort Worth taxpayers who might not appreciate their tax dollars being spent on police hanging around the Stockyards for little reason other than ridding the historic district of anything that ain’t cowboyed up and lily white.

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