Providence nightclub files complaint of racial persecution by city officials

PROVIDENCE — The owners and managers of the Silhouettes adult entertainment club filed a $10 million federal lawsuit in RI District Court on Thursday against the city, police department and Providence Licensing Board, alleging a campaign targeted racial discrimination and constitutional violations.

The plaintiffs, listed in the complaint as Lola’s Rendezvous Inc., Miami Employment Inc., The Pink Building Inc., Steven Medeiros and Shay DiPina, accuse the Providence Police Department of multiple instances of harassment and intimidation that resulted in loss of revenue and closure. of the establishment.

The lawsuit alleges patrol officers began targeting the club on March 6, 2021, two days after it opened, apparently to monitor compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The club is located at 245 Allens Ave. and has seen several older iterations in the adult entertainment business.

“Despite Silhouettes being well below the required capacity limit, PPD detectives directed off-duty retail police to ensure no additional customers were allowed inside the establishment. “, we read in the complaint.

After DiPina, the club’s manager, complained to superiors in the department, the establishment became the target of reprisals from law enforcement, including the refusal to provide requested security details and the closure of the club during business hours, depending on the trial.

Plaintiff’s attorney, Joseph Carnevale of Providence-based Savage Law Partners, sent a cease-and-desist letter to the department on March 31, 2021, arguing that the “department’s activities were in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for their disparate treatment and discrimination against Silhouettes and its customers.

The complaint says the harassment stopped for “several months” after the order was filed, but returned this summer when police “implemented a new strategy to intentionally interfere with complainants’ business and began parking marked and unmarked patrol cars directly outside the property.”

Between August 2021 and October 2022, the plaintiffs allege there were more than 30 instances of unwarranted police presence, including the taking of CCTV “and the unconstitutional stop and search of customers in the parking lot…simply for walking towards or from the establishment”.

The lawsuit accuses the department of targeting the club because it caters to minorities.

“There is no other adult facility in the city of Providence that is a victim
to the overzealous attention Silhouettes receives from the PPD,” the lawsuit states.

Requests for comment from the Providence and Carnevale Police Department were not immediately returned.

(Christopher Allen is a staff writer for PBN. You can contact him at [email protected])

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