Western Queens is turning into Dodge City, a wicked part of town where urban cowboys let off steam after taking the trail from Manhattan to the outer borough. Many of the same temptations that made the 19th-century cowtown infamous lure the 21st-century dudes to Long Island City and Maspeth: women, booze and guns. Add drugs to the mixture and the late night crime stats are ready to roll.
Something must be done to stop the shootings, stabbings and robberies that have plagued the club scene in recent years.
Last week thugs ambushed NBA player Cleanthony Early outside a Maspeth strip club at around 4 a.m. as he was being driven off in a Uber car. Using time-honored third-world tactics, the thieves were in several cars that ambushed the taxi and forced Early to turn over cash, bling and even his gold tooth caps. Not satisfied, a gunman shot Early in the knee, a savage act that could have ended his career.
The next night the gents apparently returned to Maspeth to firebomb the club in hopes of destroying any evidence that could identify them, police believe.
This is not casual crime. The attack on Early appears preplanned and designed to injure a young athlete whose mother took him out of the projects in the Bronx to save him from street violence.
Days before Early became another club statistic, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and community leaders held a rally to pressure the State Liquor Authority to revoke the license of Club Allure, which has a long rap sheet. The LIC club has been the site of 20 criminal complaints, 15 DWI arrests, gun possession charges and drug counts over the past two years, according to the NYPD.
In October 2014 four bystanders were wounded in gunfire that erupted outside the club. The following month a patron was stabbed inside. Six weeks ago two men at the Secrets Gentlemen’s Club in Sunnyside got into an argument and one shot the other dead, police said. Word has it they were friends.
Enough is enough.
The police precincts in these neighborhoods are stretched thin. They keep a squad car outside the joints in the wee hours, but their resources are needed in other places at the same time.
The State Liquor Authority should swiftly revoke the licenses of the clubs where felonies have occurred. Then the NYPD should send in recruits to clean up these nightspots and take steps to shut them down if they continue to be a draw for illegal activity.
We’re not Puritans in Queens. But we’re not the Wild West either and we must regain control of what has become our unsavory nightlife.