The city of Statesboro and our community are safer places today because the Platinum Lounge and the Primetime Lounge are closed.
Thanks to actions by City Attorney Alvin Leaphart, the Statesboro Police Department, Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office and Superior Court Judge John R. Turner, Platinum, at 2 Proctor St. in downtown, and Primetime, at 608C Northside Drive W., were shuttered and padlocked Wednesday. Judge Turner signed a temporary restraining order requested by the city of Statesboro to close the places of business after years of violent and dangerous behavior at each.
In the city’s civil petitions, Leaphart cited the danger to citizens, cost to taxpayers because of the excessive need for police response and that the nightclubs are a public nuisance in calling for each business to close. In the petitions, Leaphart outlines the many incidents that led to the city taking the drastic action of seeking an injunction to close them. And we fully support and applaud the city, law enforcement agencies and Judge Turner for taking such bold action.
Entrepreneurship is the cornerstone of American capitalism. Hayward Fields, operating through HAF Enterprises LLC, opened Platinum Lounge in 2010, and Karen Pittman Brown, operating through Bulloch Investors LLC, opened Primetime Lounge the same year. It is not easy to persuade a judge to order a business shut down, and it should be difficult.
But after two homicides, multiple shootings and dozens of other incidents requiring hundreds of extra man-hours from police, Platinum Lounge and Primetime Lounge not only deserve to be shut down — they must be shut down.
On Aug. 19, 2012, Akeila Rochell Martin of Statesboro was shot and killed in the parking lot outside Platinum Lounge. Platinum is located across the street from the Statesboro Herald offices, and two Herald newspaper carriers were picking up their papers for delivery at 2:50 a.m. that Sunday morning when the shooting started. They quickly ducked behind their cars. Understandably, they were scared, but also angry that they are actually in fear of being shot by a stray or ricocheting bullet while doing their job.
Early last Sunday morning, Herald carriers, once again, were forced to run inside the building after gunfire erupted in the parking lot outside Platinum. Later that same morning, Johnnie L. Benton, of Rincon, was killed, and Jamal Heard, also of Rincon, was seriously injured in shootings at Primetime Lounge.
No one in Statesboro should be afraid to go to work and have a legitimate fear they could be ducking bullets at any moment.
Unfortunately for Herald carriers and employees working late at night, that is not paranoia. It’s reality. And it must stop.
We believe the overwhelming number of people who go to Platinum Lounge and Primetime Lounge are just looking for a fun night out and don’t want any trouble. But the ones who are looking for trouble, and who initiate it, have created a malignancy that only drastic action can cure.
The order Judge Turner issued to close Platinum and Primetime is temporary. A hearing is scheduled in his courtroom for Dec. 10 that will extend the temporary order, remove the order or permanently close the clubs.
If allowed to open again, sadly, we believe there is little doubt more violent incidents would occur at both businesses. We believe the evidence to close Platinum and Primetime is indisputable. We hope the court agrees.