Councilman calls for change in Murray Hill community

Neighbors discuss safety after recent crimes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dozens of people gathered Thursday night to talk about how to make the Murray Hill neighborhood in Jacksonville safer.

Members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, club owners, residents and Jacksonville City Councilman Jim Love gathered to talk about how to improve in the area.

The meeting came after several shootings at two area night clubs, including one in which a person was killed at the Fat Kat Lounge in Murray Hill last month.

"I think everything is being put on us like we're the problem -- it's not the club, it's the streets," said Fat Kat Lounge manager Eddie.

Neighbors talked about adding security guards and cameras to the Murray Hill area, something they think will help curb the violence that seems to be happening more often in the historic Jacksonville neighborhood.

Eddie told Channel 4 and the crowd Thursday night that his club is not the problem, saying it's the people who visit his club. Eddie took responsibility for the deadly shooting and apologized to the victim's family.

"How was the person able to get inside the club with a gun? I'm not sure. They get inside the jail with stuff, they get inside the airport with stuff," said Eddie.

The one thing everyone at Thursday's meeting agreed on is that something needs to be done and that security more than anything is needed. People suggested using metal detectors, security cameras and even bring licensed security guards to the area.

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"This is a club that's already had its chances and now there are people dead. That's enough," said Murray Hill Preservation Association Vice President Lee Burroughs.

Love said the city is looking into Fat Kat's, seeing if the club has violated any current laws. Love also shared what other cities around the country are doing to reduce violence.

In Birmingham, Ala., clubs are required to have proper lighting and have a safety plan written that's updated yearly. Birmingham also made changes so that a club's license could be revoked if there were constant safety issues.

Love told the group Thursday that he'd like see if laws like these could work in Jacksonville.

"It's going to be a joint effort to do a bill that makes sense, that passes constitutional muster, that can stand the test of time," said Love.

Club managers said they do have some things in place to increase safety. Many said they have ID scanners and keep track of people who may be causing problems in their club.

Love said he'd like to have a bill in place to make permanent changes in the Murray Hill neighborhood within the next two months.

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