Africa Nightclub liquor license suspension continued pending further background checks, applications

Published: Jul. 27, 2021 at 2:24 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The Fargo City Commission voted Tuesday to continue the suspension of the Africa Bar and Nightclub’s liquor license suspension until further background checks on management and security personnel are completed and turned into the city.

Today’s special hearing began at 11:30 a.m. and lasted over an hour and a half with emotional and explosive testimony from both sides.

At least 10 Fargo Police Officers attended Tuesday’s meeting with some of them testifying their past communications and experiences at the Africa Nightclub, many incidents which were already covered at a June 29 hearing.

Fargo Police say they have identified one person who was underage and was inside the club prior to the shooting and May 23 murder of the club’s security guard 28-year-old Dominique McNair. Chief David Zibolski says juvenile court charges will be forwarded, but at this time, detectives are waiting to do so as they don’t want to open up the homicide investigation to public records.

Chief Zibolski says safety concerns remain high as disturbance calls continued even after the homicide. Zibolski stated his officers were dispatched to the nightclub on both June 27 and 28, which was just days before the club got suspended, for a loud party and disturbance.

Africa Nightclub manager Daniel Omane told the commission that he feels like the club is being picked on. Omane stated through records he obtained there have been more calls for service involving disturbances at other Fargo bars like the Bismarck and the Windbreak.

Omane went on to tell commissioners that guns have never been an issue at the club. Omane says on the night of the homicide, there was a there was a music video being shot in the parking lot adjacent from the club. McNair was allegedly watching it when ‘some guy out in the parking lot started shooting at people.’ Omane says yes, there were three security guards who were armed, but he stated none of them went outside or fired their guns. Omane stated the armed guards were inside protecting the patrons and employees.

Omane says no laws of infractions have ever been broken at the club, the club is not a threat to public safety and stated Chief Zibolski was misrepresenting the truth.

Omane told commissioners Africa Nighclub has changed management, removing Francis Brown, and Omane stated the club has put forth a new code of conduct for how security operates, which they’ve shared with police. Omane also told board members that all of the club’s security team is now on the payroll and there is no longer anyone who will be paid under the table.

More needs to be done to crack down on other bars in town, Omane said, not just his club. City commissioners Tony Gehrig agreed that other bars in the city need to be looked at, but says that doesn’t mean the Africa Bar and Nightclub shouldn’t have any sort of repercussions for what’s been happening there.

Commissioner Piepkorn says the club has squashed their rights to a second chance and told Omane the club has no reason to throw rocks at Chief Zibolski because the club has no one to blame but themselves for the situation they are in.

The commission stated they want to have all of the owners, new management team and security guards background checked and to have that process expedited. Once the checks have been completed and as long as they come back clear, the board stated they could likely then call an emergency meeting to reinstate the club’s license.

Chief Zibolski says he’s bringing forth more bars at Wednesday’s Liquor Control Board meeting that have had issues and will recommend actions to be taken against those establishments as well.

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