BEAUMONT — The owner of The Park on Calder is accusing Beaumont Police of harassment, targeting the business, and conducting an illegal search of the establishment in what he believes to be racism against the black-owned business.
Deondre Moore says that on Wednesday, November 1, Officer Darlene Wisby with BPD requested camera footage from The Park on Calder in connection to a separate incident. An intoxicated woman hit a police car and Moore says police believe she came from The Park.
Although the woman’s information is not in the business’s ID scanner or on their cameras, Moore says he agreed to give them the footage, but alleges that Beaumont Police Officers attempted to retrieve information outside of what was allowed in their subpoena.
“All of my employee’s records, their addresses and date of births, which had nothing to do with the subpoena there in question,” said Moore. “We told her that we would not be giving that over to her.”
The owner says that the next day, Beaumont Police allegedly returned with a search warrant claiming the business had refused to give up their camera footage completely.
“They were searching around into our safe, they were trying to search around in my desk, they were searching around in our computers. They were doing everything but what they were supposed to be doing, which was to take our camera system,” said Moore. “I literally asked the officer, I said ‘why are you doing this, what’s the purpose of this,’ and she said because she could…‘Because I can.'”
Moore feels The Park on Calder has been a target of racism. In the two months since it’s been open, the business has received noise citations from BPD even when they are not open or no music is playing, and received citations from officers even with BPD officers already on-site who say noise levels are acceptable. Moore alleges police have tried to obtain the business’s bank records, somehow in connection to the intoxicated driver incident they originally only needed camera footage for.
“Other establishments around here, especially white-owned bars, clubs, night scenes, other restaurants who have had the same things that we’ve seen before, they have not seen any level of police presence that we have even though we requested for police to be there,” said Moore.
Moore says the business requested police presence before they ever opened, and spends over $3000 a night paying four BPD officers to remain on-site.
The owner, employees, and supporters gathered outside city hall and spoke at Tuesday’s city council meeting, asking city council to hold Jimmy Singletary, Chief of Beaumont Police, accountable, as well as any officers involved in what Moore is calling harassment and a targeted effort to get the business to fail.
Ward 4 Councilman Chris Durio says he understands why the business feels racism is to blame.
“They’ve had restaurants there before and I don’t think it’s ever went this far and they weren’t African-Americans so I understand why they feel that way,” said Durio.
During the meeting, Councilman A.J. Turner said he received multiple calls from employees alleging that Beaumont Police had even searched frozen boxes of chicken at the business using a subpoena only meant to retrieve the business’s cameras.
“We’ve never had that many citizens come up here so that’s a problem to them, and when that many people come up in there then that’s something that has to be addressed,” said Councilman Durio.
Councilman Durio suggested that the city take a look at its noice level ordinances and install a decibel meter at the business to get hard numbers on if they are actually in violation. As far as the alleged illegal search, both Councilman Chris Durio and Councilman Turner have requested that the city manager and city attorney conduct an investigation.
“I’m hoping that the mayor and the city manager do their job and hold the chief of police accountable because he works for them,” said Moore.
“We put our money, some of us our life savings and all of our time into this, and so this failing or this closing is not an option for us. We won’t go down without a fight, we don’t plan to go down at all actually. We plan to rise up and to thrive beyond everything that is happening right now.”
Beaumont Police declined to comment on the allegations, citing pending criminal and civil litigation. Moore says everyone is welcome at the Park on Calder.