Ballard’s liquor, entertainment licenses suspended for two weeks
NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WLNE) — After a six-hour show cause hearing Monday evening, Block Island’s Town Council suspended Ballard’s liquor and entertainment licenses for two weeks effective immediately.
The council, acting as the board of licenses, made the decision after representatives of Ballard’s and the town deliberated for nearly five hours.
The board approved the 14-day suspension after finding Ballard’s “permitted the establishment to become disorderly, presented a danger to public health and safety, and had an event with inadequate security that overwhelmed staff and other island resources.”
Multiple Rhode Island State Police troopers, staff members, and customers from that day testified in front of the council.
“I’m going to estimate this because I do not have the numbers on this,” said former New Shoreham Interim Chief of Police Peter Chabot. “But, I would estimate that there were 3,000-4,000 people within that facility. Again, that’s only an estimation on my part. So, any reasonable person would believe that any sense or type of security would feel overwhelmed.”
The show cause hearing was sparked by a brawl that broke out at the bar, where one was arrested at the bar. Seven were arrested later that night on the ferry stemming from a fight.
A Rhode Island State Police trooper said thousands lined up for the ferry once the fight at Ballard’s was cleared, saying, “People were upset, tired, drunk, argumentative.”
While the town argued the bar was understaffed and created an environment capable of this type of incident, Ballard’s owner, Steve Filippi, said the crowd travelling to the island was out of his control.
He explained, “Everyone was put into this unprecedented situation. Everyone, including the entire Ballard’s staff, put their best effort forward so everyone could get home safely. Besides the ferry ride with all those arrests, there could have been some other, major things that could have happened that didn’t.”
During the hearing, Filippi said the event known as Reggaefest will not happen again.
ABC 6 News reached out to representatives of Ballard’s to see if they are planning an appeal and have not yet heard back.
The fight during Ballard’s Reggaefest on Aug. 8 followed reports of overcrowding at the bar over the Fourth of July weekend.
New Shoreham is still searching for a permanent chief of police.