“Closing time … You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here.” Last call caused a bit of a ruckus in the Belltown neighborhood early Sunday morning, when 1,000 people flooded the streets as the bars closed.
The Seattle Times reported the Belltown news: “Sunday morning at bar-closing time, Seattle police had to disperse 1,000 people flooding Belltown, but there were no arrests and no injuries.”
Bars announced last call at 1:30 or 1:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, and thousands of people started leaving the bars, flooding the sidewalks and spilling into the streets. About 20 Seattle police officers on bicycles, in cars, or on foot tried to disperse the crowd, and as part of their efforts they closed off 1st Avenue between Blanchard and Bell streets until the crowd thinned, which took about an hour.
In a KPLU report, SPD spokesman Mark Jamieson said, “We shut down the street just to accommodate the sheer volume of people that were down there.”
There were no arrests or injuries, but hundreds of drunk people in the streets did cause a handful of fist fights. “When you’ve got drunk people, for whatever reason, they like to fight one another,” he said.
The Belltown bar overflow on Sunday morning has sparked more debate about extending bar closing times. On one side, extended hours would bring the state more tax revenue and decrease the instances of people flooding the streets at 2 a.m. But groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving are concerned that longer drinking hours would result in more instances of drunk driving.
According to Jamieson, Sunday morning’s Belltown bar overflow “was the busiest we’ve seen it all year.”
Maybe it’s time to revisit the City’s proposal to the State Liquor Control Board in 2011, asking to extend and stagger bar closing times. That proposal was rejected, due to research that showed decreased public safety and increased need for nighttime police patrols with extended hours.
Featured photo from KomoNews.com.