Police cracking down on underground bars, illegal parties in New York, Los Angeles amid COVID-19

ByCNN, Stephanie Elam
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Police cracking down on illegal parties in NY, LA amid COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases skyrocket, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to crowd into a jam-packed bar, but police say it's happening in secret.

As COVID-19 cases skyrocket, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to crowd into a jam-packed bar, but police say it's happening in secret.

From a fight club called "The Rumble in the Bronx" to a warehouse shooting in Los Angeles.

"These activities were illegal and sometimes deadly before COVID-19,' said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito.

Coast to coast, secret parties busted by cops like an alleged illegal bottle club with 120 people inside last weekend in New York City.

Deputies also shut down a swinger's club in New York City with 80 people inside.

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"The best and most pragmatic method for deputy sheriffs to save lives is to maximize enforcement at these types of dangerous gatherings," Fucito said.

In Los Angeles, two warehouse parties in recent months led to two different shootings, exposing a reality that even in a pandemic people are determined to party.

Los Angeles police say many of the warehouses are falsely booked as video shoots.

"And then the fact that they're in industrial areas, you know, oftentimes they don't get the same kind of attention that you would get in a residential area," said Los Angeles Police Capt. Stacy Spell.

When asked what would LAPD tell these warehouse owners, Spell had this to say:

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"We ask them to ask more questions, to be more selective and to try to better identify what the purpose of that is going to be."

The extent of the problem here is unknown, but on the same night of a warehouse shooting two weeks ago, there were social media posts from this gathering in Downtown Los Angeles.

The parties are often organized online with no location given until hours before the event.

LAPD says in an era of police reform the department must think hard about sending an armed officer to a gathering where no additional crimes are reported.

"And so in those instances where a response would be more geared towards public health issues, or we could direct, you know, unarmed response through, we have partners in the fire department," Capt. Spell said. "There are other entities that could better respond to those kinds of things."

A curfew in Los Angeles County may have had an impact.

RELATED: Marin Catholic High School closes after large party, 'countless' reports of student sleepovers

In California, raves were held outside in San Bernardino County, where the local health department says it approves and monitors them.

But in the cold weather of New York, "The sheriff's office will be concentrating on large-scale gatherings," Fucito said.

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