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Booze bust! Cops shut down Williamsburg screening over liquor dispute - Brooklyn Paper

Booze bust! Cops shut down Williamsburg screening over liquor dispute

Sky box: On July 5, the Brooklyn band Marmalade played prior to the Rooftop Films screening.
Sarah M. Palmer/ Rooftop

Cops shut down a popular outdoor film screening last week in Williamsburg over a liquor dispute — the latest in a nightlife crackdown on the hip neighborhood.

During a Rooftop Films screening last Thursday at a vacant lot at Wythe Avenue and S. Second Street, nearly a dozen cops from the 94th Precinct broke up the show and issued summonses to attendees for drinking in public.

Organizers say the owner of the lot had a permit for beer and wine, it just wasn’t on the premises at the time.

“We believe the officers were in the wrong to stop the event, but had little recourse at the time,” Rooftop Films said in a statement. “In 15 years of hosting public events, we have never had a show stopped in the middle due to any violations, and are disappointed at the occurrence.”

The statement added that the group is working with the Community Affairs office to “ensure that no such incident happens in the future.”

According to one attendee who wished to remain anonymous, the cops showed up around 9 pm, towards the end of a set by Erika Spring. When she finished performing, the officers issued the summonses and kicked out the nearly 150 people on hand.

The short films will be screened tonight across the river, at Solar One on 23rd Street and the East River, free of charge.

The gravel lot in Williamsburg is largely unused, save for a concert series last summer called Rock yard organized by Jelly NYC. The series featured beer, as well as food and a slip-n-slide.

The Rooftop Films incident comes in the wake of previous liquor disputes in the area. In April, some community leaders called for a moratorium on all new liquor licenses in Williamsburg and Greenpoint (that move was later abandoned — at least for now). Before that, Bushwick gallery Arch Collective complained about multiple cases of patrons getting hit with summonses for drinking beer at openings, most recently in February. And last spring, cops shut down promoter Todd Patrick’s Market Hotel music hall in Bushwick for operating without a liquor license.

This is not Rooftop Films’ first brush with city bureaucracy. Last December, the FDNY shut down a sold-out screening in a tunnel below Atlantic Avenue, citing safety concerns.

A police spokesman did not return calls by our boozy online deadline.

Rooftop Films short film screening at Solar One [East 23rd Street and the East River in Manhattan, (718) 417-7362], June 28 at 8:30 pm. Free. For info, visit rooftopfilms.com.

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