by Jack Morse
Leo's Music Club, the barely-year-old venue in the Temescal neighborhood of Oakland, was forced to shut down over the weekend after a bizarre police raid left the club's owner and staff feeling threatened.
According to CBS 5, Friday night's show was just about to begin when an employee of the Oakland Fire Department entered the building with ten Oakland Police Department officers in tow. The OFD employee, Vincent Crudele, has in the past been accused of conducting illegal warrantless searches under the guise of fire code inspections.
Leo’s Managing Partner Jason Perkins explained to CBS 5 what happened next.
Crudele and ten armed police officers (and 6 to 7 police cars) pulled up to Leo’s Music Club. They reportedly lined up patrons and staff, and informed everyone that the venue was now closed, and that anyone who tried to open the club over the weekend would be arrested. At this point, Leo’s Music Club says, officers began conducting a search.
“Nobody could understand what [Crudele] was looking for. He was going through everything in our place,” [Perkins] said. “He went through our store rooms, our boxes and our coolers all that stuff. With the police right there, and he couldn’t find anything.”
When reached for comment, Perkins told SFist that the closure forced him to cancel twelve shows, resulting in losses of over $20,000.
This is not the first time Perkins and Crudele have had a run in, with the inspector targeting the venue eight months prior to Friday's incident.
“He basically threw us against a wall like we were criminals,” Perkins explained to CBS SF about the incident. “I was like, ‘What are you doing? I’ve been in this business for 20 years, I have 11 businesses, why are you treating me like a criminal?’ And he says, ‘You are a criminal.’ He basically roughed us up, the whole staff.”When asked why Leo's was targeted yet again, Perkins told SFist that is had nothing to do with the fire code.
"[It's] because we stood up to the bully. [...] It's about power with this guy. Businesses and people need to be protected from such overreach from investigators but sadly this is a topic for the entire country, not just us."
The venue managed to reopen Monday, and Perkins is currently working to secure a restraining order against Crudele.