Knitting Factory Concert Venue: Shut Down In The Wake Of Recent - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Knitting Factory Concert Venue: Shut Down In The Wake Of Recent Violence

SPOKANE, Wash – It was a bombshell announcement that created quite a firestorm Monday, as Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said in a press conference he was ordering the Knitting Factory concert venue in downtown Spokane be shut down, effective immediately.

 

"I want to send a couple of messages.  Number one, what we have going on is the same group of people involved in the same type of activities at generally the same location - individuals that are involved in gang activity that are terrorizing neighborhoods and are terrorizing the downtown," Chief Straub told reporters Monday.  "I want the community to understand the Spokane Police Department is in no way, shape or form, going to tolerate these incidents.  As a matter of fact, as of this morning, I've ordered the Knitting Factory be shut down because it represents a concern to public safety."

 

Chief Straub said police have been called to the Knitting Factory 60 times in the last year – including for 25 EMS (medical) calls and 4 shootings – including one in late January.

 

"We were in the Knitting Factory only a few weeks ago after another shooting, talking to them about how we can't allow this type of behavior downtown," he added.  "We're not going to tolerate this kind of behavior in any of our neighborhoods."

 

However, defenders of the Knitting Factory were equally impassioned, taking to the internet – and the streets – to show their support.  A Facebook page called "Keep The Knitting Factory Open," (https://www.facebook.com/groups/139408409559467/?fref=ts) which had more than 1,700 members by 7 p.m. Monday.

 

One man even made a cardboard sign reading "Closing the Knitting Factory will not stop crime," and held it outside the venue for more than an hour during the evening commute.

 

Legally speaking, the City of Spokane issued a "live entertainment license" to venues like the Knitting Factory, and police then regulate that license.  This is an emergency suspension of that license, citing what police call life-threatening circumstances.

 

Chief Straub said the two gang-related shootings that happened overnight are just the latest in a long string of crimes associated with the venue.  The first shooting happened around 2:20 a.m. Monday in a parking lot across the street from the Knitting Factory, and the second "retaliatory" gang-shooting happened half an hour later in north Spokane.  In both cases, two men were shot.  All four victims are expected to recover.

 

"When you have a location like this, and you have individuals who are intent on settling their own scores, settling their own beefs, and doing it in a public place, that's what jeopardizes the safety of the community," Straub added.  "We're not going to tolerate violence, we're not going to tolerate gang activity, and we're going to be bringing these people to justice very quickly."

 

However, Straub went on to say that the increased police presence downtown is working, and that violent crime and property crimes are actually down 10.5%.

 

The Knitting Factory has 20 days to file a civil appeal with the City of Spokane.  If they do, the case will go to a city hearing examiner.  Spokane Police and the Knitting Factory would both present their sides, and the examiner would decide whether the venue's license should be reinstated or revoked permanently.

 

Knitting Factory Entertainment operates four concert venues throughout the country, in Boise, Brooklyn, Reno and Spokane.  Chief Operations Officer Greg Marchant released a statement late Tuesday saying:

 

 "The actions of a very, very few people—and incidents like this—tarnish by extension the reputations of venues like ours. This Knitting Factory and its predecessors have operated a concert venue at this location for nearly ten years. Over one million patrons have safely enjoyed world-class entertainment at our venue over years of operation."

 

Marchant goes on to say "a lot of progress" was made today in speaking with Chief Straub and Spokane Mayor David Condon, and that while he hopes the talks will prevent future event cancellations, "we do intend to cancel this coming Friday's event as a ‘cooling off' gesture. We feel confident in our security policies at Knitting Factory and wish to continue the dialogue with the community in the hopes of increasing the peace."

 

The Knitting Factory's website shows "Under World Productions: 509 Lyrical Masterminds" was scheduled to perform this Friday at 7 p.m.  While that concert is now canceled, the future of other events and what ticket-holders should do remains in question.

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