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NYPD Tried to Shut Down Chris Brown-Drake Club Before Brawl

The WIP nightclub after a bottle-throwing brawl involving Chirs Brown and Drake.
The WIP nightclub after a bottle-throwing brawl involving Chirs Brown and Drake.
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SOHO — The NYPD tried for months to shut down the SoHo celebrity hotspot where singers Chris Brown and Drake allegedly brawled over ex-flame Rihanna two weeks ago, police said Thursday night.

Club WIP, at 34 Vandam St., and its sister club Greenhouse upstairs have been a magnet for fights, property thefts and drug sales for more than a year, Capt. Nicole Papamichael, executive officer of the 1st Precinct, told residents at a community meeting Thursday.

"We've been hitting them with summonses left and right," Papamichael said. "We've been trying [to shut down the clubs] for months…. It's not as easy as people would think."

The State Liquor Authority finally revoked the clubs' liquor license on Tuesday, after slamming the owners with 14 violations for disorder, noise and drug use, in the wake of the bottle-throwing melee June 14 that injured several people and left WIP covered in broken glass.

Papamichael said she was grateful to the SLA for taking action, but she wished it had come sooner.

Before the clubs were shut down, the NYPD responded to approximately one or two reports of felony assault and 10 to 12 reports of grand larceny every week — a constant string of crimes that hurt the precinct's statistics, Papamichael said. Most of the grand larcenies involved women who left their purses behind while they hit the dance floor, then returned to find their property gone, Papamichael said.

Over the 28-day period ending June 17, felony assaults in the precinct are up 450 percent, from 4 to 22, and grand larcenies are up 33 percent, from 61 to 81, compared to last year, partly because of the clubs, Papamichael said.

"Most of our complaints [in the 1st Precinct] are Century 21, for shoplifting, and Greenhouse," Papamichael said. "If we took them away, [crime] would go down 50 percent."

Papamichael said the NYPD conducted underage drinking and narcotics operations at Greenhouse and WIP and also worked with the FDNY and the Buildings Department to amass a series of violations against the clubs.

But it is up to the State Liquor Authority to revoke liquor licenses, so there was only so much the NYPD could do, Papamichael said.

An SLA spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Greenhouse and WIP released a lengthy statement Friday defending the clubs' safety record and history of cooperation with the NYPD. Every night, bouncers screened all of the clubs' patrons and kept records of their driver's licenses, to turn over to the NYPD if necessary, the clubs said in the statement.

The statement added that the club paid about $2 million per year in sales taxes and employed 300 people, who are now out of work.

"We ask the public at large, including public officials and civic leaders, to keep an open mind," the statement said. "We look forward to working closely and amicably with the NYPD and New York State Liquor Authority for many years to come, as we continue to help make New York the capital of the world."