February 22, 2013 in City

Knitting Factory concert hall back in business

City reinstates entertainment license; company will work to help quell lawlessness
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photoBuy this photo

Greg Marchant, center, chief operating officer of the Knitting Factory, Spokane police Chief Frank Straub, left, and Spokane Mayor David Condon have come to an agreement to improve safety after a shooting Monday caused Straub to suspend the venue’s entertainment license.
(Full-size photo)

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The Knitting Factory concert hall is back in business.

Spokane city officials lifted the entertainment license suspension after the concert hall’s management agreed to discuss changes that would help ensure the safety of its patrons.

“I’ve lifted my order … suspending the entertainment license of the Knitting Factory,” police Chief Frank Straub said. “This is an opportunity to call a timeout, to allow people to come together and have thoughtful conversations about how we move forward. We are not going to tolerate community violence.”

Straub yanked the license without consulting the city’s legal department, said City Attorney Nancy Isserlis, who noted Straub made the correct call after four people were injured in two separate shootings shortly after a concert ended at the Knitting Factory.

One of those shootings took place in a parking lot near the concert venue; the other occurred more than a mile away at 1712 N. Maple St. Straub said investigators continue to interview and seek out those involved, but he did not announce any arrests.

At the news conference, Mayor David Condon stood with Straub and Knitting Factory Chief Operating Officer Greg Marchant in announcing the “substantive, collaborative” agreement to work together to improve communication and security.

But neither side would get into specifics.

Straub said the main component will be better communication between the concert hall and police to make sure the department sends more resources to the downtown area when events get out.

The Knitting Factory has a “pattern of good security inside the venue. The problems we have encountered are outside,” Straub said. “I can feel their pain, so to speak, about what do I do when my thing is over and people move across the street. That’s where that communication comes in, letting us know an event is shutting down … so we can get police resources into the area.”

Condon noted that he took his wife on their first date seven years ago to a Big Head Todd concert at the hall, which then was named the Big Easy.

“We live in a community that strives to be the entertainment center, to be the retail center,” Condon said. “It is that collaborative approach with the business community that is key. People want a vibrant community. But we need to balance that with safety.”

Marchant expressed remorse for those who were injured in the shootings. The victims were “our guests. We take that very seriously.”

“I’m not happy with the way the week started,” Marchant said. “But I’m extremely happy with the way it ended.”

Marchant said he was appreciative that both Condon and Straub showed immediate willingness to work toward solving the problem.

“We have a lot more things to hash out. If this was a simple thing, the actions that the chief took wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “I’m not at liberty to go into specifics, other than what the chief said. I feel like we re-established some mutual trust in our ability to communicate.”

Straub said his actions show that he is serious about increasing safety downtown, which has already seen a drop in crime calls this year.

“Don’t come to our downtown and bring guns. Don’t come downtown and shoot people. We are not going to tolerate that behavior downtown,” he said. “We are not going to tolerate that in any of our neighborhoods.”

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