Cleveland Public Safety Director Responds to Outrage Over Letter Threatening Gay Bar Owner

Last night Towleroad published a letter to Brian Lyons, the owner of Cleveland's Cocktails Lounge, which has been the focus of a series of neighborhood hate crimes against both the gay bar and its patrons. The letter, from the City of Cleveland's Director of Public Safety Marty Flask, said Lyons had been calling the police too often and threatened him with further action if he continued to do so.

FlaskIt also provoked immediate outrage on social media, so much so that Flask published a response late last night on the city's website. Flask claims that the incidents he refers to in the letter are not related to the alleged hate crimes at Cocktails Lounge but are related to other disturbances. He calls his letter "bad timing" and rescinds it.

The Mayor of Cleveland has also directed Flask to set up a meeting between the police commander and the owners of Cocktails Lounge to address the issues of crime against the bar.

Flask's statement below, also posted on the city of Cleveland's website:

Statement from Marty Flask, Director of Public Safety regarding a nuisance warning letter sent to the owner of 9208 Detroit Avenue

The letter received by the owner of Cocktails on Detroit Avenue is not related to recent alleged hate crimes that are currently being investigated by the Division of Police. Rather, it is an early warning letter that the Department of Public Safety sends to property owners to help prevent a location from becoming a “nuisance property”, as identified in Chapter 630 of Cleveland’s codified ordinances. 224 such letters have already been sent to various property owners this year.

The timing of this letter was an unfortunate coincidence. If I had to do it over again, I would have handled this particular situation differently. After reviewing this issue with Mayor Jackson, he has directed me to rescind the letter and instead set up a meeting with the District Commander and the property owners so that we can work together to address the issues raised by the calls for service to 9208 Detroit Avenue. Cleveland Police responded to 9208 Detroit Avenue nine times between September 2, 2012 and September 1, 2013 for a variety of complaints, including fights, disturbances and robbery. 13 complaints were received during that time frame. None of these complaints were related to the alleged hate crimes that are currently being investigated.


  1. TampaZeke says

    How interesting that he calls the hate crimes “alleged” but the complaints “complaints”, “fights”, “robbery” and “disturbances”.

  2. says

    What’s his beef ?
    The Police are supposed to respond to calls about robbery, assaults, etc.

    He seems to be saying that there is too much crime in the area.
    So put a few cops on the beat !
    Prevent the crimes instead of responding after the fact.
    This guy seems such a tool.

  3. Pitt90 says

    I live in Cleveland suburb, and am no fan generally of Mayor Jackson, but glad to see that they’re proactively handling this, and thanks for Towleroad and others for putting pressure on them. I’m excited for the Gay Games and the city does seem to realize that it’s an opportunity it can’t lose.

  4. enough already says

    The ‘alleged’ versus ‘real’ connection has already been pointed out.
    The man is obviously a hater who thought he could impose his christian agenda on Teh Gayz. Got caught doing it and now is pretending it was all bad timing.
    Actually, he’s not lying about the bad timing. It was bad timing that his boss got involved just when he was setting the wheels in motion to persecute Teh Gayz.

  5. Lucas H says

    They responded to a bar 9 times within a year, and they’re threatening the owner over it? What good are the cops in Cleveland? To serve and protect up to a point, but not entirely? The rationalization behind this makes the letter look even worse!

  6. Sean says

    I don’t care what the instances were. Those business owners are tax payers, so there is no unpaid “burden”, get over it and do your job as they request it. Period. No arguments. Ingrates.

  7. Jeff says

    It’s entirely possible that at the beginning of September, his dept was given a list of businesses that called the police multiple times and sent out several form letters to get them to handle their problems and deal with troublesome customers, perhaps on the assumption that the incidents were “bar fights” between patrons.

    Either way, they should have examined each situation before sending these letters out.

    The good news is, even if this was just a misunderstanding or a coincidence, this letter has drawn much more citywide and national attention to the problem, and will put more pressure on the city to resolve it… pressure that may not have been there before. So it’s good news that Flack flacked up.

  8. Whiteprivlidge says

    Crappy bar in a crappy hood, but hey, it’s the latest outrage.

    It may come as news to posters here, but the cops are not obligated to respond. I know, what a shocker. Anyone living in the real world is aware of this though; that is, anyone not living in insular suburban America.

    Minorities are well aware of the fact though, not only do cops not show up but neither do emergency medical people or fire services. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

    It’s only the privileged white guys that seem to think they’re entitled to all these so called public services, you don’t really give a crap about anyone but yourselves. You’re disgusting.

  9. Joseph Singer says

    If towleroad really wants people to visit their website they need to stop putting crap on their web pages to prevent the visitor from the content the viewer came to see. Just stop it. It doesn’t improve your website it just degrades it.

  10. GJM says

    Flask states that the allegeed hate crimes are under investigation but are unrelated to the police calls that prompted the letter. If the investigation regarding the recent crimes is still open, how can he make that conclusion? (Did investigations into each of the earlier crimes definitively determine the criminal and motivation? If so, how could those crimes be cited as evidence of an ongoing nuissance?) To be credible on this issue, Mr. Flask needs to provide some explanations.

    Mr. Flask states that the mayor directed him to rescind the letter. The absence of any indication he agrees with this action is disturbing because it makes him seem reluctant. (Flask vaguely remarked that he would have handled it differently than issuing the letter sent considering the poor timing.) Has such reluctance enabled the lengthy series of violent crimes to take hold at that location?

    Also, note the contradiction when he asserts the letter is an early warning to prevent nuissance. It was reported that letter required the owner to describe nuissance abatement measures to be implemented. That doesn’t sound like a warning, it sounds like that business’s future was being threatened.

    While a joint effort involving the owner and police sounds like a very good idea, Mr. Flask provides no indication that any measures have been implemented to prevent violent crime at this location. Shouldn’t this be an important point for the head of Cleveland’s Public Safety Division?

    It sounds like Mr. Flask has some deficiencies as head of Cleveland’s Public Safety Division. Whether the problem is a lack of community relations skills, an indifference to violent and ongoing crimes against gay men, incompetence, or something else I do not know.

    It seems very clear that Cleveland has a problem that needs to be addressed and that gay men need to exercise heightened caution while in that city.

  11. Bouncer says

    These kind of problems should be handled by the bar. That’s what bouncers and private security are for.

  12. aregeejay says

    While this area of Detroit Ave is NOT a good area. The bar is located between downtown Cleveland and the affluent community of Lakewood. The houses are run-down, crack rules the street corners, prostitutes and hustlers ply their wares up and down the 5 block area around Cocktails Bar, and Miss Thang is worried about too many calls to the bar? Glad to see the Mayor of Cleveland do a dance on this jerk’s forehead. Miss Flack needs to RESIGN now or be immediately FIRED.