After midnight on weekends, the downtown Minneapolis Warehouse District becomes a dangerous place.

As a recent Star Tribune story reported, the combination of young patrons, nightclubs and alcohol transforms the district into an area into where drunkenness, fighting and other out-of-control behavior are all too common.

As one downtown beat cop said, "It's always a good night if I don't have to Mace anyone.''

The city has wisely put additional police officers and surveillance cameras into the area, and it's clear that the focus must be on those clubs that attract the most violent offenders. A minority of criminals should not be allowed to make downtown dangerous for others.

Of the 15 or so clubs that turn huge crowds into the streets at the 2 a.m. closing time, one has become the epicenter of more violent incidents. Karma, on 1st Avenue N., has logged more than 160 police calls in since January 2010. Last month, three men were shot following altercations that started there.

After trying to work with Karma's owners for several months with no success, the city declared the club a "public nuisance,'' and last week officials recommended that the bar close for 90 days and come up with a better security plan.

Club operators rejected that suggestion, so the city's next option is to take the nuisance argument to court to shut the club down. If officials can't get better cooperation soon, that's exactly what they should do.

Karma owners say they do a good job of controlling crowds inside the club and should not be held accountable for what happens when people leave the building. They also imply that the city's actions against them have an element of racial discrimination because the club plays hip-hop music and caters to an African-American audience.

But other nearby clubs that have diverse crowds and sometimes have similar music manage to avoid the level of trouble linked to Karma. And none of the law-abiding patrons -- including the majority of Karma customers -- should have to fear that gunfire will break out as they go to and from the district.

One thing that contributes to the Warehouse District problems is the age of many downtown revelers. Some of the clubs host 16- or 18-and-up nights, during which people who are not old enough to drink legally are admitted. The clubs aren't supposed to serve alcohol to the underage patrons, but it's hard to prevent illegal drinking when those age groups are mixed together.

Bars that have ongoing trouble could eliminate promotions aimed at underage patrons. Or they could limit the hours for the younger crowds.

Law enforcement officials also note that clubs, even when they have their own security, should notify police immediately about tensions inside the clubs instead of just throwing troublemakers into the street to continue the disputes.

The majority of downtown club patrons go to dance, drink, socialize, hear music and have fun -- and they behave themselves in the process. It would be unfair to impose rules that penalize the many in order to deal with a few offenders.

That's why it's important that the city take steps to target where the bad behavior and bad actors operate, like the city is doing with Karma.

At the same time, patrons of a number of other clubs certainly contribute to the alcohol-fueled, out-of-control behavior that is common on weekends. Without stepped-up efforts by the city, the police and the clubs, it could be a long, hot and dangerous summer in the Warehouse District.

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