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Owner says unfair business playing field after club shut down for COVID, fire code violations

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – A video making the rounds on social media shows a long line of people waiting to get in a Baton Rouge club.

That line was outside Club Pure Friday night.

That event didn’t get shut down, but the one at The Palace the next night did.

“It actually was an illegal raid without a warrant,” said Torrey Lewis, owner of The Palace.

Lewis says people were forced out of his club Saturday night and some of them were searched.

Lewis added, “I asked him, why are y’all here? Are y’all shuttin’ me down? They never told me that day. We not shuttin’ you down. I said, well, what are y’all doing? He said, we’re not shuttin’ you down. We are just here to do an inspection.”

According to paperwork, the inspection found fire extinguishers were expired, blocked doors, and there were 725 people inside at the time.

That’s more than the 50 percent capacity requirements under the governor’s phase two order.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning says, “We’re not gonna tolerate that. If they think they’re gonna move those parties somewhere else across the state of Louisiana, we’re gonna find them and we’re gonna make sure they are in compliance with the fire code because people are not gonna be injured or hurt on my watch. I’mma tell ya.”

Browning says it’s a case of a night club turn unsafe building.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome posted on Twitter “I’m disappointed any business would put the lives of their patrons, staff, and community in such danger.

Lewis says it’s not a level playing field for businesses during the pandemic.

“Either you need to shut the casino down too. Don’t have picks and chooses about this business or that business,” Lewis said.

Lewis says he plans to file a lawsuit against the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

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