B y Jaime Thomas
A brawl involving 50-75 people erupted at the Forum Restaurant early Sunday morning following a St. Patrick’s Day event the bar was hosting.
At 3:25 a.m., Granville police responded to a call about a large disturbance at the Forum and were surprised to find 50 to 75 people fighting outside in the parking lot, Sergeant Dave Williams said.
“There were two groups of 20 on 20, but there was more shoving than actual fist-fighting,” Williams said. Bar staff had managed to get the group outside, and two males were being held back from each other surrounded by dozens of onlookers when police arrived.
Initially, Williams and one other officer were on scene alone for 10 to 15 minutes before backup, including three cars from the state police and two from Washington County Sheriff’s Office, arrived.
Williams said police were trying to disperse the crowd and get everyone to leave, but it was not an easy task. Police would stop one scuffle and put someone in their patrol car, and as they were dealing with another fight they would find the same person out of the car and in the thick of things again.
Arguments continued to break out on different sides of the parking lot, so rather than making arrests police tried to make sure everyone had a sober driver and send them home.
“We were trying to get them dispersed; there was not enough manpower on our side,” Williams said. Police told everyone the bar was closed, but inside the bar they had to deal with more unruly subjects. Before they arrived, someone had hit another person with a glass bottle. Williams said the inside of the bar was devastated, and broken glass was everywhere.
This is not the first time the show, featuring Rod Dukes and DJ Willow, has caused problems locally and elsewhere.
Undersheriff John Winchell said the two have had similar incidents previously in Granville and in Glens Falls. Large fights involving 50 to 100 people seem to follow their shows, he said. Factions from such areas as Troy and Rutland follow the different artists and then get into arguments with each other.
Winchell said the sheriffs anticipated problems when the Forum began holding these events and tried to discourage them, but the bar continued to host them.
Because the Forum is a private business and Granville has no nuisance law, they can legally hold the show. Granville police have asked the Forum to notify them when these particular entertainers are in town so they can have more backup, but the owners did not do so last weekend.
As full backup arrived from outside sources, police were eventually able to fully disperse the crowd after about 35 minutes, Williams said.
Calls made to the owners of the Forum were not returned as of Tuesday afternoon.