Five Points bar 'The Library' losing liquor license, likely clos - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Five Points bar 'The Library' losing liquor license, likely closing

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The Library The Library
Justin Kershner stands outside The Library Thursday. Justin Kershner stands outside The Library Thursday.

The bar that a Midlands sheriff has identified as the epicenter of gang activity in Five Points is losing its liquor license and likely closing within days, the owner told WIS Thursday.

The owner of The Library says new problems developed shortly after Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a news conference to name his establishment as one that is generating a disproportionate amount of trouble in the Five Points.

Justin Kershner says The Library is losing its permit to sell alcoholic beverages Friday at 2 p.m.

The South Carolina Department of Revenue has ended a payment plan it had agreed upon with Kershner for payment of back taxes, according to Kershner.

Tax trouble started for Kershner when a plumbing issue forced him to close the business for a short period of time. He says the lack of revenue during the closure put him behind on his taxes.

Kershner says he came to an agreement with a DOR representative that allowed him to make payments in installments until he caught up.

That agreement, according to Kershner, ended overnight.

Kershner believes the reason he is about to lose his liquor license is because of Lott's comments.

"Why now?" said Kershner. "Why not last month when I didn't pay it? Why not the week before when it wasn't paid the same way it wasn't paid that week? Because I had a verbal agreement with the representative of the South Carolina Department of Revenue and he revoked his deal. His boss pressured him, whatever it was."

Kershner says unless he comes up with about $18,000, he will be forced to close The Library in a matter of days.

Sheriff Lott unloaded on The Library during a news conference Thursday afternoon. He said members of his gang unit working during a special operation October 26th were able to identify numerous members of a gang--many of them inside The Library.

The sheriff said security was poor and he thought the bar should be shut down.

It was not the first time The Library had been identified as a trouble spot in Five Points. In February, then-Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott criticized the bar after a shooting incident involving a young man who came out of The Library, got a gun and fired several shots.

Kershner took issue with Lott's complaint, saying the sheriff had not contacted him before identifying The Library as a hot spot for gangs.

"He (Lott) never reached out, never contacted me for help,never made a suggestion, 'Hey, can we look at your spot? Can we put up an additional camera to try to keep thugs and gang bangers out of your club?'"

"There's no proof that the people that caused any of the actions on the street were coming from my club," said Kershner. "They're racially profiling my establishment. I don't know who it is. I don't want to name any names or point fingers, even though they did."

Kershner disagrees with the classification that The Library is a gang hangout.

"Of course its not," said Kershner. "I don't know the difference between a black college student and a black gangster in a gang. I have no idea how can you tell the separation?" 

"It's 100 percent politically motivated and race is behind it," said Kershner.

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