Flint, MI–Flint City Councilman Maurice Davis said he believes liquor stores are “the demise of poor communities.”

He’s proposing a new ordinance to close liquor stores, gas stations and convenience stores earlier, which he thinks will mitigate problems with violent crime in Flint.

The draft of the ordinance, written by Davis and Councilman Allan Griggs, calls for the hours of operation of these stores to be from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Punishment for not following the ordinance includes a $500 fine or imprisonment for up to 90 days.

Davis said this ordinance would be the “beginning of turning neighborhoods around” and “becoming a community, not a ghetto.”

The ordinance was brought up for discussion at the city council meeting Wednesday night.

Councilman Griggs said the ordinance could just apply during the pandemic, but Davis said that would not be sufficient for his ward. He wants it in place permanently.

“We’re tired of the nuisance and crime that’s in this community,” Davis said.

Councilman Herbert Winfrey expressed his support for the ordinance, calling it “a way…this council can protect our citizens.”

“It is absolutely…outrageous for any business person to think that they can come into this community, and do what they will…take those resources, and then just leave us with the folks that create problems,” Winfrey said.

During public comment, a few speakers spoke in support of the ordinance.

Eleanor Jones of the 5th ward said there are “non stop issues and crack dealing” at the gas station in her neighborhood.

Veronica Parker called the activities at the liquor stores “so wicked.”

“It’s an injustice this poor Black majority community is being poisoned all night by these predatory owners, while more affluent families in suburbs get peace and quiet,” she said.

Last week, the city released a press release sharing information from a preliminary data analysis done by the Flint police department regarding calls to 911 from liquor stores and gas stations in Flint.

Chief Terence Green said it was clear from the data “that these businesses are hotspots for criminal activity.” 

The analysis found that “24 locations resulted in a total of 1,038 calls to 9-1-1 and 95 validated crimes from Jan. 1, 2020 to Oct. 12, 2020.”

One establishment, open until 2 a.m., had 193 calls to 911 so far this year. 

At the council meeting, Councilman Eric Mays said those thousand calls only make up “2 percent of the calls” to 911.

“The other 98 percent is in the community,” Mays said.

He brought up how the the majority of councilmembers voted not to give money to former Police Chief Tim Johnson to hire new officers.

“When people are hanging out in my ward, store owners call the police. They can’t get no police,'” Mays said.

He said that the real problem here is not about the hours of operation, but about having police and security.

“Why shut ’em down at 7? You shut ’em down at 9, now somebody gets killed on the side street at 8,” he said. “That ain’t the solution.”

Neil Shango of Liquor Corner on Saginaw St. said he doesn’t mind the ordinance, if it works.

Quick Pick Party Store on W. Court St. in Flint.

“It will hurt my business for sure, but if that will solve crime, no problem,” he said. “I’m just not sure it will work.”

He said crime has become “normal” outside of his store which is open until 2 a.m., but that it happens at all times of the day. 

“There’s crime in the morning and the afternoon,” he said. “7 a.m., 4 p.m., or 9 p.m., people are doing the same thing.”

A review of studies about alcohol outlets and alcohol-related harms published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that “greater outlet density is associated with increased alcohol consumption and related harms, including medical harms, injury, crime, and violence. “

Additionally, a study about the communities where alcohol outlets are most dense found “a disproportionate concentration of alcohol outlets and advertisements in low-income minority communities,” which speaks to complaints brought forth during the council meeting’s public comment.

“If the liquor stores wasn’t in the neighborhood, none of that crime would exist, but I’m not proposing we close them down, I’m just proposing we close them earlier,” Davis said. 

A study about the effectiveness of restricting liquor store hours found that “increasing hours of sale by 2 or more hours increases alcohol-related harms,” but did not have sufficient data about the effectiveness of restricting hours. Still, authors wrote that “policies decreasing hours of sale by 2 hours or more at on-premises alcohol outlets may be an effective strategy for preventing alcohol-related harms.”

Another study about restricting the days alcohol is sold, found that “increasing days of sale leads to increases in excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms and that reducing the number of days that alcoholic beverages are sold generally decreases alcohol-related harms.”

Shango said he hopes the ordinance will apply to all stores that sell alcohol, not just liquor stores, but Davis said that won’t be the case.

“All they have to do is hire security to clear off unwanted people when they’re doing illegal illicit activity. Meijer does that,” Davis said, comparing liquor stores to the grocery store chain that sells liquor and is open until midnight. “That’s the difference. The treatment over here is not the same treatment and I’m tired of it.” 

Davis said people wish they had more grocery stores like Meijer in neighborhood communities.

Liquor Corner also sells food, and Shango thinks the earlier closing times could pose problems for people who come to his store for groceries.

“It’s a walking neighborhood, we have a lot of walking people. There is no grocery store around here, so a lot of people buy food here,” he said.

Davis said that’s not what the liquor stores in Flint are really about.

“I’m a traveling musician and when I get to a city, I know when I’m in the hood because I look at liquor stores and plainly see it,” he said. “They’re wrapped with beer signs. It’s never about milk, meat and necessities. It’s always about liquor.” 

The ordinance is set to come up for further discussion at the Oct. 26 city council meeting.

Amy Diaz is a journalist hailing from St. Petersburg, FL. She has written for multiple local newspapers in her hometown before becoming a full-time reporter for Flint Beat. When she’s not writing you...

One reply on “Flint liquor stores could close earlier as a response to crime”

  1. Flint has enough closed businesses it’s so sad! some people work shifts where they don’t get out until nine what if they need to get milk! I’m a single mom with no family or father to my twins and I don’t have gas money to drive all the way to Meijer and haul my kids in at bedtime for milk if I am out!! it’s not just about the liquor the police don’t come when they’re called anyways there will be more crime people will be in rage living on a day schedule when they work days! Maybe build another jail to house the criminals so they know that they won’t taunt the police and get a court date knowing the jail is full and people dien what are they going to do blame it on alcohol!? No that’s how the people deal with losing everything and having no jobs why is it legal if it’s controlling cities over police?! What are the police doing have them sit in parking lot after 9 I guarantee people won’t be hanging out then! Let them sell marijuana then since it will relax the chaos! I have to already risk my kids and my life being a white single women one the north end of flint when my local liquor store closes at the time I get out I run out of TP water milk every other day I have to go to the Fleming Pierson road hood now for toilet paper and lock my kids in the car when the trouble ain’t in the store buying alcohol it’s outside where they partying and not one cop tolls through to break off the crowd but my. Morris stay pulling people over for speeding send their worthless harassing cops across clio to Fleming I bet they would have a field day on that parking lot! Hmmm 🤔 wonder why people are on an outrage it’s a pandemic worry about the change of laws and the shit that’s been going on for years after this I know I’m stressed the hell out being off work last couple months with no pay and shit offs late fees etc of I didn’t have my bottle of wine on a bad day I might just go off and buy the illegal drugs that already out here or go off the deep end and snap stop blaming and start doing what we pay cop taxes for make them useful not wasteful!!!

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