Just as the outrage over the Fort Lauderdale bar bouncer beating incident began simmering down, the Broward-Palm Beach New Times published an explosive, investigative piece revealing that the bouncers at Dirty Blondes have a long history of attacking and beating patrons while Fort Lauderdale police have a long history of looking the other way.
And it’s not surprising considering many of these cops receive up to $600-a-week for working security at Dirty Blondes and other establishments owned by the same man, where they do nothing but hang around wearing their tax-issued uniform, badge and gun, frolicking with the bar staff while making the occasional arrest on a beating victim.
One former bouncer said beatings like the one caught on video in July take place every day.
The only difference was that this was not only caught on video, but a video that went viral, posted on a multitude of news sites throughout the world, forcing Fort Lauderdale police to eventually arrest the most violent bouncer, Arnald Thomas-Darrah on felony battery charges. Police also claimed they were going to arrest the second bouncer, Jovan Dean, but that turned out to be bullshit because they never did arrest him.
But that took place more than a week after Fort Lauderdale police officer Mark DeCarlo, pictured above working at another bar under the same ownership, arrested the two victims, Alex Coelho and David Parker, adding insult to the brutal injuries that they had already suffered at the hands and feet of the aggressive bouncers.
The 15-second Instagram video was posted to the internet Sunday night, July 28, only hours after it had taken place. The Broward-Palm Beach New Times picked it up the following morning and I picked it up later that day.
That night, a Facebook page titled Boycott Dirty Blondes emerged, asking the community for the names of the bouncers, which didn’t take long to obtain. By the end of the week, the story had gone global.
All because of a 15-second Instagram video that the young man eventually deleted after all the attention it had drawn.
According to the New Times:
But a New Times investigation has found that this altercation was anything but isolated and that when such assaults occur, local police have every incentive to protect the bouncers because of an undefined — and lucrative — off-duty policy. Taxpapers provide the cars, gasoline, uniforms, training, and guns that enable cops to take off-duty but uniformed freelance work at bars. But unlike some other local agencies, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department doesn’t track how much money or what gifts cops haul in during this work. On the beach, some cops can make as much as $600 per week, one source estimates, and such cash can perhaps sway a cop’s allegiances. Nine people who experienced or witnessed bouncers pummel patrons say responding cops either didn’t reprimand the bar or filed a report that misrepresented events.
And all nine of those people saw it happen at bars owned by two Israeli-born men named AJ Yaari and Lior Avidor, who, in terms of sheer sweep, are perhaps the two most important men on Fort Lauderdale Beach. They own a king’s swath of the beachfront: Dirty Blondes, Exit 66, Rock Bar, Sangria’s Cafe, Spazio, St. Bart’s Coffee, and the forthcoming Tsukuro. Since March 2009, according to police reports, county civil records, and dozens of interviews, security personnel at these establishments have beaten at least 21 patrons in 16 separate incidents. Excluding the now-infamous July incident, which slapped bouncer Arnald Thomas-Darrah with one count of felony assault, only one bouncer has faced charges, court records show.
“The bars own these cops, and that is all there is to it,” explains a former high-ranking city official who requested anonymity. “Money talks. These bars buy protection like a Mafia operation. And if any violations come, they have their sentinel out there who’s protecting them from the government.”
The sometimes-shocking stories of violence, not to mention their number, lay bare a little-recognized problem in one of the nation’s most iconic beach spots.
“What you saw in that video happens every day,” one current Dirty Blondes bouncer remarked. “That one was just caught on video.”
For another unrelated example of excellent investigative journalism about cops in South Florida, check out the Sun Sentinel’s Cops, Cash, Cocaine: How Sunrise Police Make Millions Selling Drugs.