The Mysterious Case of the Red Parrot Lounge Riot

The Red Parrot Lounge is like most bars in Lorain: dark, a bit salty, and full of loyal, thirsty Poles. It’s rough enough, too, that owner Mitch Karczewski keeps a set of handcuffs behind the bar. But it’s one of the only places in town to catch live music, which makes the Parrot a haven for the underage – and not especially popular with Lorain’s finest. Last month, Karczewski learned this firsthand. He’d thrown out a rough-acting drunk, who responded by chucking a barstool into the bar’s front window. Out came those trusty cuffs to control said drunk until police arrived. Enter Sergeant James Wolford, who openly refers to the Parrot as a “nuisance.” When Wolford arrived, he had at least eight badges backing him up, which is way more than you’d expect a single drunk to require. One asked the door guy if he was checking IDs. Then, Karczewski says, Wolford ordered his cohorts to shut the place down. Officers quickly stormed the Parrot, not forgetting to juice up their Tasers. Three bar patrons can tell you the Tasers worked just fine – one from the backseat of a cruiser, where two officers opened the back doors and Tasered him. In all, 11 people were arrested, though, strangely, not one was underage. (And in a nod to the city’s generally law-abiding Polish, only two had a last name ending in “ski.”) Wolford and the officers say they entered the Parrot because the crowd started to riot when they came for the drunk; but Michael Camera, who represents five of the arrested, says the only pain served that day was police-issued. “That’s a hell of a calm riot,” he says. Last Thursday, Camera packed a courtroom with witnesses; but the department wants more time to investigate the incident, so they left with a Loraincheck for next month. But don’t expect a decision anytime soon. After all, the complaint list against Lorain’s Finest already stretches halfway to Vermilion, with new entries trickling in almost monthly. An officer was just suspended for investigating too many ladies with tingly britches. A woman and her neighbor have accused two more of tasering the woman’s boyfriend after he’d been handcuffed. Last year a twelve-year-old boy was tasered on a school bus. Wolford himself has been fired once already for using excessive force during an arrest. “It’s like the Wild West out here,” says Karczewski. – Jason Nedley
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