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Omaha city council forces Reign Lounge to re-apply for liquor license

Posted at 6:49 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-22 19:49:01-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Residents in North Omaha tell the city council a bar is a drag on the Florence neighborhood.

The owner says it's a witch hunt over his largely black clientele.

This may, the council told the owner of Reign Lounge that he needed to work with police and fix parking issues if they wanted to keep their liquor license.

Still there's been recent complaints of violence, trash, noise and other issues.

The bar owner says he's done everything he can to control his customers and that the lounge is being targeted by white neighbors.

"Basically this amount to a modern day lynching,” says bar owner, James Overton.

reign lounge owner James Overton was blunt to the city council.

he thinks some folks in the Florence neighborhood want his bar gone because his bar attracts black residents.

"You say, you know what, you're going to prosper, you're not going to have a place for you people to ahead and congregate, you're not going to have a right to assembly, you're not going to have any of these things. Just for the simple fact of the color of the skin that you have," says Overton.

Those that live or work near the bar in the Florence neighborhood say the bar has been a nuisance since it's opened, saying bar-goers park where they want, leave broken bottles, use drugs and urinate in public.

"Unbelievable how our little neighborhood has gone downhill since two years ago when the Reign moved in," says resident, John Lemon.

That includes several violent incidents that attracted police.

"There was multiple fights and gunshots, people were running back and forth across 30th street while vehicles were jumping curbs and driving south in the northbound lanes," says business owner, Lonnie Albertson.

An attorney in the city law offices documented 21 incidents or complaints, saying Overton has also been late on paying taxes.

Almost every council member spoke, including Brinker Harding, who didn't buy Overton's race argument.

"The decision we make here today will not based on race,” says Harding.

The council unanimously voted to force Overton to submit a new long form applications to the Nebraska Liquor Control Commission, with council member Ben Gray saying both sides had a point.

"I do think you have issues that need to be addressed and they have not up this point adequately and need to be done so. But, lets add to that, let's don't dismiss issues of race,” says Gray.