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City, Conch House talk safety after bar brawl

Video of big Memorial Day fight went viral

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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – After a huge Memorial Day weekend brawl at a St. Augustine bar, city leaders are now looking at what they can do to ensure it doesn't happen again.

The Conch House made headlines a couple of weeks ago when its Reggae Sunday turned violent, leaving several people hurt, including some who were hospitalized. A cellphone video caught all the violence and it immediately went viral after being posted on the Internet.

RELATED: Conch House halts Reggae Sunday after brawl

The Conch House is bringing back its Reggae Sunday event after a short hiatus following the brawl but not before, John Regan, the St. Augustine city manager, had a meeting with the establishment's owner Monday and a city commission meeting convenes to discuss what happened during the holiday weekend event.

The Conch House's owner let the city commission know Monday what he and his staff are doing to ensure public safety and make neighbors comfortable when Reggae Sundays resume this coming weekend.

Regan said the owner is hiring a security firm and is putting a maximum limit of customers allowed in the restaurant at any given time. The maximum capacity that they're going to be enforcing will be 1,075 people, which is about half or a third of the number of people who were there on the day of the Memorial Day brawl.

Conch House is instituting a system where customers have to slide your ID to get in.

According to Regan, there is also talk about hiring three extra off-duty police officers to help with crowd control. As far as whether the city can do anything to force something beyond that is hard to say legally.

"I can't pin a specific rule that they broke, but I think it's clear that the intensity and size and scale of Reggae Sunday and the management of that crowd is something that's out of proportion and out of balance," Regan said. "So by establishing a firm capacity, ability to control capacity and control the crowd with different systems and professionalism is certainly the right step."

When asked about how all of those new safety measures will be paid for, including the off-duty officers, officials said the Conch House will be footing the bill, not the city.
 


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