DES MOINES, Iowa — Court Avenue is synonymous with Des Moines’ party scene, but city councilman Joe Gatto worries the party has gone too far after several violent incidents this summer.
Des Moines Police arrested 25-year-old Terrion Maxfield Wednesday for attempted murder after a shooting outside of Court Center last weekend. They are still searching for a man suspected of stabbing someone during that same incident.
Gatto believes the violent incidents are the fault of business owners. He says they turned down the chance to reinstate chainlink fences, metal detectors, and ID scanners around the entertainment zone this year, and believes a lack of enforcement has led to more crime.
“We want to work with the business owners, and if the business owners say, ‘we don’t want your help,’ then what are we going to do?” Gatto said. “There’s some business owners that threw a fit and said, ‘we don’t want this up there,’ and now we’re back to the same situation we had last year.”
Zach Radcliff says he often comes to have a drink on Court Avenue, but notices a change in the crowd as the night gets late.
“It’s peaceful up until about 11 o’clock. After that, it gets a little rowdy,” Radcliff said. “I take off right at 11. There are fights. There’s a whole bunch of people packed in one group, then a fight breaks out and the cops come. Then I’m out.”
Gatto says bar owners on Court Avenue are equipped with metal scanners and ID checking equipment paid for with city funds, but believes not enough restaurants are using them. He worries that if more violence happens on Court Avenue, it will irreparably damage the entertainment zone’s reputation.
“Us as a city and a county, we worked with business owners last year to try and find a solution,” Gatto said. “They didn’t agree with our solution, so we stepped back and its now on them.”