Tomorrow at 10 a.m., Tracy Cooper and a group of concerned citizens will show up at the office of P.G. County Executive Rushern Baker and attempt to convince him to shut down Forestville's CFE events center . Cooper's son, George Cooper, 25, was fatally stabbed inside of the club in the early hours of August 22. In February, Cooper filed a 10 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against both P.G. County and the club's owners. She wants the place closed for good.
"The goal on Wednesday is to shut down the CFE," Cooper says. "It has been an ongoing goal for us, and I'm just happy that folks are starting to come on board in support of our actions. There is strength in numbers, and I hope that Rushern Baker and the people in his office take note, and see that something needs to be done."
Cooper believes the security at the venue isn't sufficient, noting that, just last month, a 13-year-old girl was shot in the leg in the venue's parking lot, following an all-ages show. The venue was closed temporarily in 2007 as part of a crackdown, led by then County Executive Jack Johnson on nine nightclubs with a history of violent incidents. The move was opposed by the Go-Go Coalition, Peaceaholics, and other groups that felt the county was scapegoating the venues.
"There are no checks and balances," Cooper says. "When the club reopened, after Jack Johnson’s whole overhaul, they were supposed to reopen with better security systems, lighting, etc., and that is totally nonexistent. It's just wrong." All of the public phone numbers for CFE are disconnected and people listed as the club's owners could not be reached for comment.
Cooper recently spoke about her crusade to shutter the venue on the Rising Spivey news and talk show, which airs on Bowie's public access channel. Host Shanelle Spivey was so moved by Cooper's story that she helped to organize tomorrow's rally and has continued to report on conditions at the club.
"I’m 26 years old, I definitely understand nightclubs, and wanting to go out, but this place is a hole in the wall," Spivey says." I’m from Largo, I live in Bowie, and for us to go out on a Friday or Saturday night means traveling to D.C. I guess that's why [CFE] is popular in the area. They were shut down in 2007, because of violence, then opened up with the promise of better actions and security, and they haven't done it. They have no regard for the youth in the area if that is how they handle their business."
Spivey adds that she is in favor of having entertainment venues in P.G. County, especially those catering to young people, but only if they are responsible businesses. "One one hand, it would be great to have something in community, because there are few options," she says. "But if they just stand at the door and collect money, they should not be allowed operate."
Cooper says that telling young people not to patronize such venues isn't enough; adults in the community have to work to make them safe places. "Whether our children choose to go or not, isn't it our responsibility? My son is gone, there is nothing I can do about it, but I can help to save to save someone else‘s child," she says. " These places should not be allowed to operate in our community. They're wolves in the yard."
Cooper and Spivey are asking that anyone interested in marching tomorrow show up at 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive in Upper Marlboro at 10 a.m.