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Citizens rally behind downtown markets after alcohol licenses revoked by city

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A number of people spoke during public comment at Wednesday’s Reno City Council meeting protesting the council’s decision in December to revoke alcohol licenses of two downtown businesses.

Wrightway Market in 2021 had 705 calls for service, compared with the nearby businesses of Golden Gate Gas (371) and Jacksons (391). Lakemill Maxi Mart was also barred from selling alcohol.

Numerous commenters and business owners Wednesday fired back at what they said was Reno Police and downtown ambassadors blaming Wrightway Market for numerous incidences beyond their control, such as fights and public intoxication not associated with their market.

“There are individuals downtown that are creating chaos, and these businesses are being blamed for it.”

The meeting started with the building’s owner saying that the city unfairly targeted Wrightway in particular. 

The market is across from the Fourth Street bus station. The station, liquor stores, bars and downtown casinos are bigger contributors to downtown crime, public commenters said.

Public commenters played videos showing police at incidents being blamed on the market because of its address and location. A fight at the market coded by the Reno Police Department as being at the market because the fight was outside the business.

Opinder Dhillon, Wrightway’s owner, tried to play the video for the council, but City Clerk Mikki Huntsman said he could not play the audio of the video because she had not pre-screened it for potentially vulgar language. 

“The calls are being made on my store,” Dhillon said while explaining the video. The people calling police dispatch tell police they are calling from Wrightway Market. “They are going to my record wrongfully.”

Dhillon’s son played another video of an intoxicated person outside the business. Police arrived and confronted the man because, he said, calls made by downtown ambassadors cited Wrightway as the location. 

A representative from the Downtown Reno Ambassadors during the meeting defended the calls and said they were “precise” as to location – Wrightway Market.

Neoma Jardon, executive of the Downtown Reno Partnership, also told This Is Reno “the ambassadors do not report or attribute incidents to alternate addresses. They report issues to the location where they occur.”

Chase McMullin said, though, he helps manage nearby properties. He spoke in support of Wrightway and said RPD misled the council about the nature of calls for police service. 

“It seems like a behavioral health issue. He’s being blamed for the people at the bus station,” McMullin said. “There are individuals downtown that are creating chaos, and these businesses are being blamed for it.”

Hawah Ahmed, former Washoe County Commission candidate, said the city council needs to “step it up.” 

She said the council’s actions look “really, really, really discriminatory.” 

“We have to do something to support our business owners and … our residents,” she added. “If you talk to any business in the downtown area, they do not feel like they are being supported right now.”

She said basing policies on dispatch calls that are not regionalized discourages those same businesses from calling police when they do need help.

Mayor Hillary Schieve responded to the citizens by saying she would agree to meet with the businesses at a special city council meeting. 

“We’re going to do a reset,” she said. “We’re trying to do everything we possibly can.”

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Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR.

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