BISHOP Larry Trotter, one of Chicago's respected political figures, has appealed to that city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, to assist a popular reggae club obtain a licence for resumption of live shows.
Trotter said the Wild Hare, which has been around since the 1980s, has been a victim of racial profiling by its neighbours in the city's north side.
Trotter told the Chicago Sun-Times that he got involved after members of his congregation at the Sweet Holy Spirit Church — who are regulars at the club — told him of their concerns.
The Wild Hare, which has hosted some of Jamaican music's biggest names, has been operating without a live music licence for the past five months.
Its main source of revenue is its menu of Jamaican food and drinks. Emanuel, a close friend of American President Barack Obama, has not responded to Trotter's appeal.
In a letter to Emanuel, Trotter said the Wild Hare's neighbours in Chicago's Wrightwood community, had wrongfully challenged the club's right to a show licence based on unsavoury elements hanging out there.
According to Trotter, their claims are based on "something other than safety, community welfare and the law". The matter is before the courts and will be addressed in June.
Before it moved location in mid-2011, the Wild Hare was a fixture in the Wrigleyville area of Chicago for 25 years. It was owned by Ethiopian musician Zeleke Gessesse, co-founder of the reggae band Dallol which was once signed to the Marley-run Tuff Gong record label.
At one stage, Dallol toured as opening act for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. Artistes including Rita Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Shabba Ranks, and Barrington Levy performed at the Wild Hare.
Gessesse and his brother gave up the Wild Hare 18 months ago and returned to their homeland where they opened another club.