Edition 1450
18 November 2017
Edition: 1450

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Government closes popular Lisbon nightspot after shocking footage of bouncer violence

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in Regional · 09-11-2017 14:18:00 · 0 Comments

One of Lisbon’s most popular nightspots has been closed on government orders after footage of bouncers violently attacking two civilians went viral on social media, in what current affairs commentators have termed a “victory for social networks over Rule of Law”.

Government closes popular Lisbon nightspot after shocking footage of bouncer violence

Newspaper Público, citing information from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MAI), reported 38 complaints have been made against the Urban Beach nightclub so far this year, 32 of which involved “the same eight security guards” and “allegations of violence or acts of discrimination or racism.”
Three security guards were arrested last Friday after shocking footage of them violently attacking a man already on the ground went viral on social media last week.
Two of the bouncers have been remanded in custody and all three appeared in court last weekend.
The “intolerable” incident triggered a hard-line response at the highest echelons, culminating in the Home Affairs Ministry shutting the venue down just hours after the footage went viral, and investigations being conducted by the Public Prosecutor and PSP police.
The incident happened during the early hours of Wednesday 1 November, in the immediate vicinity of the Urban Beach club, on the Santos Docks.
In a statement issued following the episode, Urban Beach’s parent company, Grupo K, said it “laments and vehemently condemns any act of violence.”
The statement stressed “in nightlife there is sometimes a transformation and alteration of people’s civic and social behaviour, which, for no apparent reason, provokes conflicts.”
But, it added, the group “does not advocate or support any kind of aggressiveness by workers or employees.”
Grupo K said it immediately suspended the security guards involved in the incident and has since rescinded its contract with the PSG private security group through which it subcontracted its bouncers.
Urban Beach discotheque will remain closed for six months.
This is not the first time bouncers at Urban Beach have been accused of violence or discrimination.
The Portugal News has been contacted by a regular visitor to Lisbon and told of a similar incident at that nightspot.
The French national, who regularly travels to Portugal, claims to have been “choked then kicked multiple times in the head and ribs by four men with my little sister watching.”
He said “at least eight” bouncers lined up outside the venue as the situation escalated, and described their response as “automat-ed and weirdly organised”.
“I went to the club in mid August of this year. When being denied entry a friend of mine verbally confronted the bouncer and got sucker punched in the jaw. My friend started filming and was immediately put in chokehold and beaten to the floor - he has Asthma- when I intervened I was beaten by four men and suffered from concussion and multiple bruises all over my body. My younger sister witnessed all of this and started shouting and that’s when they got physical with her, pulling her by the hair over several metres”, the man recalled in comments this week.
He said the bouncers “stopped immediately when their superior made a small hand gesture.”
The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was familiar with the club because on two prior separate occasions he was denied entry to the venue and feels both times it was because of his colour.
He said the incident involving him this past summer, which happened on 12 August, “was not an interaction between drunk people and normal respectful bouncers; it was five young adults and teenagers trying to party in Lisbon, and a team of racist, violent bouncers.”
In 2014 Portuguese Olympic athlete Nelson Évora also said he had been stopped from entering the club because of his colour. At the time he said on Facebook he had been stopped at the door because there were “too many black people in the group.”
Urban Beach denied the accusations of discrimination. But it seems such incidents are not confined solely to Urban Beach.
The Portugal News was also contacted this summer by a 29-year-old British national who said he was “attacked on holiday” inside another Lisbon club, “for no apparent reason apart from the fact that I’m a black tourist.”
Don Samkange, who works for MTV UK as a Music Network Scheduler, told The Portugal News in August, he was left with injuries so severe that he required surgery, and a month later still had nerve damage and no feeling in part of his face.
He spent two days in a Lisbon hospital following the attack inside the Place Lisbon nightclub, in June.
Among the injuries he sustained were a broken jaw, fractured finger and extensive nerve damage to his face and throat which left the Londoner on a liquid diet and facing a recovery that could span months.
He claimed he was attacked by bouncers in the Lisbon club’s toilets; “They punched me till I lost consciousness and stomped on my face and neck whilst I was on the floor, ignoring my scream that I couldn’t breathe. My phone and cash were stolen from my person, and I was left literally drenched in blood.”
An ambulance was called, and he claimed “the security guards lied to everyone and said I was doing cocaine and then changed their story to say that I was trying to buy cocaine - I don’t do drugs, but I had tests which came back negative for cocaine and low blood alcohol.
“Regardless, drugs aren’t a justification for that type of violence. I personally think that the attack was possibly racially-motivated.”
Mr. Samkange, who filed an official complaint with police, added the incident had not put him off travelling, “but it has made me wary and less naive about racism in foreign
countries.”
He lamented: “Lisbon is a beautiful city with wonderful people and I know that not everyone is like the people who attacked me, but unfortunately, it has tainted my view of the city a little. It’s also made some of my friends and family think differently about the city and Portugal as a whole. Despite this, I’m sure one day I’ll go back.”
He said he decided to go public with his story after discovering “other people including women have been manhandled in a similar way” at that venue.
Social media and travel review sites are peppered with similar claims of bouncer violence at Place Lisbon.
In response to The Portugal News’ request for comment, a spokesperson for Place Lisbon said it did not have any record of the incident involving Don Samkange, but did offer to look into it further.
It stressed “ninety percent of complaints in nightlife allege ‘racial motivation’, and then it is confirmed that this is not the reason. We have several black security guards and others, for which we consider it an affront to claim racial motivation.”
The spokesperson reiterated, any suggestion the assault was racially-motivated is “completely
unrealistic.”
Meanwhile, the Portuguese Association for Security Companies (AES) said “harsh punishment” should be handed out to companies operating “outside the law.”
Rogério Alves, president of the AES, said the repeated situations of violence “end up destroying and affecting the image of an activity that is carried out by 35,000 professionals in thousands of places scattered throughout the country, and with a high level of public appreciation.”
The victims in last week’s incident at Urban Beach have said they will be pressing charges with the Public Prosecutor; the Ministry for Home Affairs has said it will be looking to introduce changes to the way private security companies are regulated.

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Edition 1450
18 November 2017
Edition: 1450

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter

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