Student survey examines excessive force in downtown bars

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With the recent arrest of a bouncer at The Press Bar and Parlor in downtown St. Cloud for throwing a man out on the street unconscious, many are wondering whether the security guards of the city’s nightlife are abusing their power. Much like police officers protect their community, bouncers are in place to protect bar patrons from harm and ensure a sense of security to the community they serve, but other incidences like the one at The Press call the actions of some into question.

A recent survey by the Chronicle examined 30 students who frequent the bars downtown and gave us their perspective:

According to those surveyed, over half of the students said they were not exposed to any excessive force used by bouncers, but 26.9 percent of those surveyed said they had experienced some form of unwanted contact.

There are approximately 20 bars in the downtown St. Cloud area, making it a hotbed for students from the university and others who live around Central Minnesota – since the city of St. Cloud has the densest population in the area. Out of all of the bars on the list, the 30 respondents data shows most of the excessive force demonstrated by bouncers at bars where college aged adults tend to hang out. 50 percent of those surveyed show that these incidences of excessive force happen at The Press, 25 percent happen at The Red Carpet, 16.7 percent happen at Brothers Bar and Grill and 8.3 percent said they experienced excessive force at other bars not listed on this survey.

Excessive force is a term that varies depending upon the person. An individual may perceive grabbing someone by the arm as crossing the line, while others find it to be reasonable. According to the data, 50 percent of respondents who had discrepancies with bouncers said they were either pushed or shoved by them. 33 percent of respondents did not note what type of force was used, 8 percent said they received intimidation tactics or threats from a bouncer and another 8 percent of respondents said they were punched by them.

When incidents of assault or battery occur, law enforcement is usually called into play in order to sort things out. However, according to the data, nearly 78 percent said that after an incident at the bar, they never called the police. Only 21 percent said they involved the police in their case.

During the free response portion of the survey, opinions were mixed and divided. Some say that these incidences never occur and that people need to control themselves, others say that the bouncers have the right to use as much excessive force as they please and the rest believe some kind of action needs to be taken to curb the amount of aggressive transactions taking place.

Students wanted to remain anonymous while voicing their opinions to avoid conflict, here is what some had to say:

“I don’t think the bouncers use excessive force and if it’s really a problem people should just comply with what they’re saying rather than forcing the bouncers to get upset and have to help them get out. Also in this recent case at The Press the man would not leave and also slipped as he was being slightly pushed out not thrown to the ground. The bouncer did not mean to hurt the man and also didn’t call for help because he didn’t realize and had to go back to his job inside the bar.”

“I have had bouncers at The Press and Brothers help us when friends had too much to drink. This fall I had an angry ex-boyfriend come up to me and punch me in the chest at bar close outside The Press. The bouncer stepped in and kept the guy away from me while the police made their way over. While I do feel the bouncer from last weekend took things to far and didn’t help the person in need once they were injured. It is not fair to throw all bouncers in St. Cloud under the bus for the actions of one. This is much like throwing all police under the bus when there is an unjustified shooting.”

“Better training against aggression and proper training how to handle hostile situations.”

“The police need to be called if there is an issue and bouncers can not take their power as freedom to do whatever they please if they don’t like something.”
“Make the minimum age someone is allowed to be a bouncer 21. I feel by doing this you have people controlling crowds the way they’d want someone else to do it if they were in a bar. By having someone bounce who isn’t old enough to fully experience the bar scene, I feel like it might be a confidence booster to them by giving them the mindset of “I’m able to control these people who are older than me and there’s nothing they can do about it”