Locals: Club closure good for safety

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A year after an Opp man was murdered at a club on Hardin Street, locals say the neighborhood is safer.

On June 8, 2014, 20-year-old Demetrice Hines was killed when gunfire rang out in the now-closed Little Harlem Club.

Four others were also injured.

At the time, Opp Police Chief Mike McDonald said that was the third homicide his department has worked in or around the club in recent years.

Authorities charged 23-year-old Kanavis Malik Cole of Elba with one count of murder and one count of attempted murder stemming from the early Sunday morning shooting.

Cole was denied a reduced bond in August 2014.

Court records show a Covington County grand jury indicted him for murder in February, and last month his request for a bond hearing was denied.

In late June 2014, Alabama State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk issued a cease-and-desist order against the Little Harlem Club.

Opp Police Assistant Chief Kevin Chance said things had improved since the closure.

“Our call and complaint volume has been reduced in that immediate area since the closing of the club,” he said.

Opp City Councilwoman Mary Brundidge, who represents District 4 in which the club was located, said she was pleased with the progress.

“During the summer months like right now,” she said, “there are a lot of cars over (toward Little Harlem) on Sunday, but as far as Friday night and Saturday night, it’s been an improvement.”

Brundidge said the other clubs in the area seem to be holding their own without the problems presented by the Little Harlem Club.

“Little Harlem started having those parties,” she said. “A lot of young folks and older folks together – that’s not going to work.”

Brundidge said Opp residents can get along, but it was the other crowd from outside the city that causes a lot of the problems.

NAACP President Aaron Bogen agreed with Brundidge.

“It’s a lot of those out-of-towners who were causing problems,” he said. “We always have been good. It’s not our people who are causing problems. If we can keep those Elba boys out of Opp, our neighborhood will continue to be safe.”

Bogen said it’s important for the community to continue to work together to combat crime.

“We are going to start getting into the community more,” he said. “We are going to be talking to our kids.”

Bogen said there’s a group organizing to help those in need within the community.

“It’s not much but we’re helping how we can,” he said.