Wicker Park bar sues over shutdown as public safety threat, saying city is using it as a scapegoat for a failure to control violence

The shutdown order was issued after someone standing across from The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave. fired shots into the bar, striking a man in the face. It was the second shooting outside the bar in four months.

SHARE Wicker Park bar sues over shutdown as public safety threat, saying city is using it as a scapegoat for a failure to control violence
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The Point Music Venue and Bar located at 1565 North Milwaukee Avenue, in the Wicker Park neighborhood, Friday, Oct. 22, 2021.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A year after it was shut down as a public safety threat, a Wicker Park bar is suing the city of Chicago, saying it was used as a scapegoat for violent crime and part of a “concerted effort” to eliminate bars with late-hour licenses.

The shutdown order was issued last winter after someone standing across the street from The Point at 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave. fired at least 10 shots into the bar, striking a man in the face, authorities said. It was the second shooting outside the bar in four months.

Days later, the business was ordered closed by police Supt. David Brown. The Point owner Jun Lin chose to fight the shutdown order instead of agreeing to a “nuisance abatement plan.”

After a monthslong battle, an administrative law judge upheld the city’s action despite agreeing that the bar’s owner could not have “reasonably anticipated” the patron’s actions in the February shooting. The Point was forced to remain closed as Lin was hit with several building department violations.

The lawsuit says the city engaged in “punitive, retaliatory and harassing conduct” and calls on the courts to stop City Hall from “continuing their malicious and dogged attempts” to prevent The Point from reopening.

Lin previously accused the city of using his business as blaming him for the failure of police to address violence.

Closing bars following incidents of crime near or around the property sets a dangerous precedent, according to Lin. “They are punishing business owners and they are very selective about who they punish,” Lin told the Sun-Times.

The lawsuit also says the shutdown is part of a concerted effort by the city to close late night bars and restaurants. The Point’s license allowed it to remain open until 5 a.m.

He is seeking relief for all lost income and a court order “enjoining the city from engaging in the retaliatory practices.”

A Sun-Times investigation found that, while the city works quickly to shut down establishments on the South Side and West Side after violent incidents, it goes easy on clout-heavy bars in the downtown area.

Since 2015, police department records show, at least 58 Chicago businesses — liquor stores and bars as well as gas stations, restaurants and other establishments — were shut down as a result of shootings under the city’s summary closure ordinance, enacted that same year.

Records show only one bar, Sound Bar at 226 W. Ontario in the downtown area, was shut down following a shooting.

The shooting that led to closing of The Point happened near closing time on Feb. 6, 2022. A patron entered The Point with three other men. They were patted down, checked with a handheld metal detector and their IDs were scanned, the lawsuit said.

The group left about 4:50 a.m. About 15 minutes later, one of the men stood across the street and fired into the bar. Months earlier, four people exchanged gunfire outside the bar on a busy Milwaukee Avenue, leaving one dead and wounding four bystanders.

“All I want is my business back,” Lin said. “Has keeping my business closed made the city any safer? Has it made Wicker Park any safer?”

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