A Long Island bar set up a gambling pool over how many shootings would occur in NYC and Chicago over Labor Day weekend—a vile move that could get the bar shut down over gambling rules.
The Cliffton Bar in Patchogue set up a board of numbers betting on the number shooting incidents in the two cities—which have seen a spike in gun violence this summer during the COVID-19 health emergency and historic economic fallout as a result, similar to a number of U.S. cities.
The "game" at the bar set up rules, like how many points are needed to win, where the statistics would be obtained, and how the weekend period would be defined, according to screenshots of Instagram posts from the bar's social media account that has since been made private.
The bar has previously spewed bigoted views and aligned itself with inflammatory messaging. Last year, it posted transphobic and homophobic comments on its social media page—in which images of a couple were published on the Instagram account mocking them. The establishment's owners later apologized.
In a Newsday photograph of The Cliffton, it appears that there are two Thin Blue Line flags posted outside of the establishment. Created in response to protests against the killings of Black men at the hands of police, the flags are often seen at Blue Lives Matter rallies. (The image at the top of this article is from Google Maps, in 2018, when the bar had U.S. flags waving outside its doors).
Two calls to a number listed for The Cliffton went unanswered on Wednesday.
"These reports are repugnant—and those responsible for this gambling pool should be ashamed," Richard Azzopardi, the senior advisor to Governor Andrew Cuomo, said in a statement.
The State Liquor Authority called the allegation "sickening," adding it may be illegal under liquor license laws. The bar staff has already refused investigators from the state police and liquor authority from inspecting the establishment this week, which can result in a liquor license revocation.
"This establishment will be charged for the violation we have already observed and can expect to hear from us again," the authority said in a statement.
Anti-gun violence leaders across dozens of organizations in NYC have been on the ground all summer, mediating potential conflict and connecting residents to resources, from mental health services to employment programs. They operate in neighborhoods most heavily impacted by gun violence, mostly Black and brown communities who have also face outsized impacts from the coronavirus this year. More than 100 of those leaders rallied in Bed-Stuy this week to call for more resources for the crisis management system groups to expand to more communities, with more staffing. Many emphasized NYers are facing a double-epidemic: the virus and gun violence.
Among them was Pastor Gil Monrose of the God Squad, who called the apparent betting at the Long Island bar "despicable."
"I wish they would hedge their bets that our community is not going to be broken in the face of the trials that we're going through," Monrose told Gothamist. "Our community has been through high levels of crime before—it's not by our own making .... We have an illegal gun epidemic."
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, who could not be immediately reached, told Newsday the pool was rooted in racism and showed a "disdain" for human life.
"We can't tolerate it," he told the Long Island news outlet. "To be buying a box to see how many people die is something I cannot fathom."
A de Blasio spokesperson, Julia Arredondo, told Newsday it was "unfathomable that anyone could find joy in the pain of others."