MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - We’re learning more about a Montgomery Pride United event, that was reportedly shut down Saturday night, from someone inside the event at the time.
MPU posted about the incident on its Facebook page, saying “The police just shut down the drag shows tonight at Touch of Soul. This is why we fight.” The shows were held as an after party following the Montgomery Pride March Saturday afternoon, according to another Facebook post.
Victoria Jewelle, the show director and leader of the group, said she and the other performers were getting ready in Touch of Soul Café’s basement when a uniformed man walked downstairs. Soon after, more men came into the room, and Jewelle said they began walking and looking around. She said one of them, who identified himself as the fire marshal, asked about the show, but most of the others just looked around silently, going in and out of the basement. Jewelle said many of the performers, herself included, were left feeling uneasy.
“I’ve never seen 12 people doing an inspection,” she said.
Jewelle said after some time had passed, one of the performers came downstairs and began packing up, saying they wouldn’t be allowed to perform. Jewelle said she went upstairs and spoke with the granddaughter of Touch of Soul Café’s owner, who said the restaurant was being made to close because there was no cook on duty.
Monday, WSFA 12 News spoke with the restaurant’s owner, Geri Moss, who said there were two certified cooks on site Saturday night, and there was food prepared in the kitchen. Jewelle was one of those certified cooks, but she didn’t get to inform the authorities of that. She said she didn’t get to speak with them at all. Jewelle questions why an inspection by law enforcement, and the ABC Board, was performed that night.
“The timing is bad, if that’s what it was," she said.
Montgomery Police Sgt. David Hicks confirmed a restaurant in the 100 block of Montgomery Street was inspected at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday night. Touch of Soul Café’s address is 115 Montgomery Street. Hicks said MPD and Montgomery Fire/Rescue assisted in a pre-planned ABC Board inspection detail of clubs and bars in Montgomery, during which MFR saw the restaurant had armed security and people collecting money at the door.
Hicks also confirmed the café was told to close by midnight, due to the belief that the kitchen was not operational. No citation was issued and no arrests were made.
Dean Argo with the ABC Board said all ABC licensed and permitted premises are subject to inspection at any time and no agency was targeting the restaurant or any of the other businesses inspected.
Jewelle said the event was going to help raise money for Club Starlight, a gay club in Montgomery where she said the community would be able to go and feel safe. She also said the show will go on Friday night, again at Touch of Soul Café. Doors will open at 9 p.m., and the show will begin at 11 p.m.
“They’re not going to stop us," she said.