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New York Club Legend Lashes Manhattan ::

Reported by Olly @ Trackitdown on October 5, 2007

Iconic New York club pioneer Peter Gatien, who ran Palladium, the Tunnel and Limelight during a 17 year career in the City opened a brand new superclub Circa, in Toronto this week, some four years after being hounded out of New York by US authorities.

The Canadian born club king was targeted by the DEA who launched a massive undercover sting at the Limelight in the late 90s, though was acquitted by a jury in less than three hours after the police case collapsed. However, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and served 60 days in infamous New York prison Rikers Island, before being jailed for three more months as US authorities deported him as ‘a convicted felon’.

Describing the immigration centres as ‘hellholes’ that were much worse than Rikers’, he accused US authorities of conducting a vindictive campaign against him following his acquittal, telling the New York Daily News he’s happy to be out of the City.

"I still have stamina to operate a very credible nightclub in an atmosphere that allows you to hire creative people and not be bothered by the Draconian laws of New York," Gatien, 55, snapped.

"I learned in the U.S. you can get indicted for very little reason," he added, "You're just too vulnerable to the excesses of aggressive enforcement. It's certainly not the America I dreamed of going to in the '50s and '60s.”

Last October (some 3 years after Gatien was deported from America), cops raided Limelight again (though it had been purchased by different people and renamed Avalon) over minor bureaucratic licensing details, prompting new owner (and similarly high profile nightclub entrepreneur) John Blair to claim authorities still ‘have it in’ for the venue.

 “I’ve been in it (club promotion) for 30 years but no longer. I’m not going to invest in anything or own anything in New York City again,” Mr Blair told Edge New York at the time, “The police have turned the city into a Gestapo state.”

New York police’s brutal tactics were also dissected this week by civil liberties journalist Nick Turse in an essay published on Alternet titled ‘New York City's Explosion in Police Repression and Surveillance Is a Threat to Us All’.

The respected writer suggested ‘the city's security forces have eagerly embraced an Escape From New York-aesthetic’ and accused them of wanting to ‘turn Manhattan into a walled-in fortress island under high-tech government surveillance, guarded by heavily armed security forces’. He also quoted a chilling statement by Rudolph Giuliani’s security chief Michael P. Jacobson of the consequences of falling into the cops’ hands.

"Essentially, everyone who's arrested in New York City, in the parlance of city criminal justice lingo, goes through 'the system,” Jacobson reportedly told a meeting of the American Sociological Association earlier this year.

“If you've never gone through the system, even 24 hours -- that's a shocking period of punishment. It's debasing, it's difficult. You're probably in a fairly gross police lockup. You probably have no toilet paper. You're given a baloney sandwich, and the baloney is green,” he explained. (‘Since shifting to "zero-tolerance" law enforcement policies under Mayor (now Republican presidential candidate) Rudolph Giuliani, the city has been employing a system of policing where arrests are used to punish people who have been convicted of no crime whatsoever,. . .’) (Riker’s Violence: The law of the street is certainly the code of behavior for many of the 17,500 inmates in Rikers' 10 jails, where the drug trade is brisk, homemade weapons abound, and slashings over sneakers, telephone time or some perceived display of disrespect are common . . .’) (Rikers stories)

Jonty Skrufff (