The man accused of running a wild and unauthorized club on East Lake Street blames homophobia and misunderstanding for the unwanted attention from neighbors and the city.
David L. Tomlinson, who runs a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender drop-in center at 3318 E. Lake St., said Wednesday morning he’s being targeted because of his affiliation with the GLBT community. He said he’s also been tainted by an ongoing dispute between the building’s previous tenant and the building owner.
“I think they’re causing a problem because ... people in that area don’t like gays,” he said.
The city’s complaints about Tomlinson (read about the city's view here) run from late hours to liquor law violations, and parties that have resulted in numerous police calls. The city has sent $1,600 worth of citations to him, according to city council member Gary Schiff, but Tomlinson said Wednesday that he’s never received them. As far as the liquor law violations, Tomlinson said it’s a misunderstanding.
“I’m 35 years old,” he said. “I’m allowed to have a cocktail if I’d like.”
Advertisements for parties at 3318 E. Lake St. have included drink prices, but Tomlinson said he hasn’t been selling alcohol.
He also disputed city records that say police have been called to the property 29 times in the past six months for fights, loud music and weapons violations. The building has four tenants, he said, and perhaps they were responsible for some of those calls.
He said he was the subject of the most recent police call to the building, this past weekend, when authorities broke up a party. City records say police were at the building at 12:38 a.m., beyond Tomlinson’s legal operating hours. He said the police were there at 11:15 p.m.
“Someone’s lying and that needs to be noted,” he said.
Finally, Tomlinson said he had nothing to do with a July event held at 3318 E. Lake St. that, according to advertisements for the party, appeared to be an alcohol-fueled orgy. “That has nothing to do with me,” he said. The entertainment company that sponsored the party, The Big Takeover Ent., is run by Shawn Keaton of Roseville, according to several Facebook pages, but he could not be found for comment.
Tomlinson said his drop-in center is a safe haven for GLBT people, a place where they can come for friendship, counseling, AIDS tests, computers, and a place where “they don’t have to feel that they are bullied,” he said.
If he’s to continue operating there, Tomlinson likely will have to convince a long list of people that he’s legitimate, including Minneapolis City Council member Gary Schiff, who says it’s an illegal business, city licensing officials, who say Tomlinson doesn’t hold the proper licenses for a club, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office, which this week was preparing a nuisance letter to send to property owner Ira Kipp of Mendota Heights, the second one this year, according to Schiff, and the Minneapolis Police Department, which is conducting an investigation.