NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Cooper’s son Johnathan was shot and killed outside of Slyce Pizza Bar on Arch Street in Hamden back in April.
“My son’s dream is gone. I will not have the opportunity of having his dream lived. But, I have a death certificate,” said Odell Cooper. “Hamden Police are confirming that the shooter of my son was inside of Slyce, got into an argument at the bar, left,” said Cooper.
Cooper was joined by members of CONECT, Congregations Organized for a New Connecticut, outside of Slyce on Wednesday afternoon. The group presented a petition to protesters with more than 259 signatures of those who support having the bar lose its liquor license.
“We’re tired of the noise. We’re tired of the sirens and we’re tired of the violence. And, we want it to stop,” said Darlene Butler, an area resident and member of the Community Baptist Church.
“We give everybody a chance. I am a big believer in small businesses and large businesses but enough is enough with this one,” said Hamden Police Chief Thomas Wydra.
Wydra was accompanied by Hamden Mayor Curt Leng and other local politicians. Wydra says the intersection where Slyce is located is plagued by violence, citing at least five incidents of gunfire within the last two years.
“Each and every time it was related to patrons of the Slyce Pizza Bar and so the is a nexus between the establishment, between the liquor permit and the violence,” said Wydra.
Slyce’s owner Fazaly Rabbi says his bar is being unfairly targeted.
“I’m not doing anything illegal in here. I’m not in violation with the liquor license, liquor commission. I have good food, my price is fair,” said Rabbi.
Slyce’s liquor license is set to expire on October 25th. Rabbi says he will fight the petition. Protesters hope their voices are louder than his.
“The people inside of Slyce yesterday said what do you expect for crime that happens in a black poor community, that you expect crime,” said Cooper.
“The outrageous premise that this is to be expected in a community is a disgrace and an outrage,” said Mayor Curt Leng.