Police shut down South Side, West Side businesses over violence, go easy on clout-heavy bars downtown
Since 2015, the Chicago Police Department has shut down at least 58 businesses, most on the South Side and West Side, after shootings at or near their premises even as violence surged downtown.
But it didn’t shut down LiqrBox, whose owners include Carmen Rossi, a clout-heavy businessman who runs a string of restaurants and clubs, holds the liquor license for Lollapalooza and is a political contributor to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
City officials say neither LiqrBox nor other Near North Side businesses have received preferential treatment because of their political clout or the taxes they bring in for City Hall.
And Lightfoot says her ties to Rossi had nothing to do with the police decision not to close the bar.
“I would never allow anyone in my administration to pull any punches based on a perceived relationship with me or with them,” Lightfoot says. “If that was the case, they would be fired immediately. I didn’t know such an establishment existed until this conversation.”
Since 2015, police department records show, at least 58 Chicago businesses — liquor stores and bars as well as gas stations, restaurants and other establishments — have been shut down as a result of shootings under the city’s summary closure ordinance, enacted that year. The ordinance gives the police department the little-known but immense power to immediately close businesses associated with violence.
Most of those shuttered businesses have been in low-income neighborhoods on the South Side and the West Side, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found.
Despite the surge of violence that downtown Chicago has experienced in recent years, it appears from the police records that only one of the businesses the police have shut down was downtown. That was a club called Sound Bar, 226 W. Ontario St., where a security guard was killed and the owner wounded in a shooting in an alley in 2019.