Hoboken cracks down on bars that can't control crowds

HOBOKEN, New Jersey (WABC) -- A violent fight erupted outside a bar in Hoboken over the weekend, with the brawl spilling into the streets.

It got even worse when responding police officers were assaulted.

"It's a clear view of what our officers are dealing with daily," said Hoboken Police Chief Kenneth Ferrante. "Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights with incidents becoming more violent, more large-scale, people having no concern whatsoever, putting their hands on a cop, in the middle of a police officer's business."

Now the city is cracking down on the bars that can't control their crowds, suspending several liquor licenses.

The city has had enough. Last Thursday, the Alcohol Beverage Control Board met and slapped 11 bars with charges for their history of unruly behavior.

For the weekend's 'LepreCon' event, five bars lost the privilege of being open, among other punishments.

The bar 1 Republik on Washington Street has a tarnished history, with one fight leaving a patron in a vegetative state, and can't open on LepreCon. It is suspended for 30 days and after that the city is forcing it to shut down for good.

Years ago, the city canceled the St. Patrick's Day parade after drunkenness and crimes shot up surrounding the event.

But private bar crawls have taken its place, and some say they can be just as disruptive because of a few bad elements.

"It's disgusting because of the throw-up, and I have dogs," said resident Rosemary Giovanetti.

New Mayor Ravi Bhalla says he promised in his inauguration address he would clamp down on the growing bar nuisance complaints. Shutting or suspending what they identify as trouble spots is part of his solution.

"I was constantly making phone calls to officers who were injured, especially after SantaCon." said the mayor. "People suffered concussions, officers had to go to the hospital and at some point I said that this has to come to an end."

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