ELYRIA — The Lorain County Zulus Motorcycle Club is back to partying in downtown Elyria less than two years after it voluntarily closed its Broad Street clubhouse at a time when law enforcement and the county prosecutor’s office was working to shut it down.
Police Chief Duane Whitely said he was informed that the Zulus were gathering every Friday at the Mardi Gras Lounge, which since late last year has been under new management. And, while there have been no complaints about members’ presence there, Whitley said he still is concerned.
“They have been in our city three times, and we have had to close them down three times,” he said.
In February 2009, the club was operating out of 579 Broad St. and was facing intense scrutiny. Over several months, multiple incidents including an after-hours brawl that erupted into gunfire and the stabbing of a 21-year-old man resulted in much negative publicity for the downtown club.
It was at that point city officials moved to have the club declared a nuisance and shut down. After moving out of the clubhouse, Zulus President Madara “Big D” Edmonds said the group would not open a new clubhouse and would keep a low profile.
Mardi Gras operator Shane Loudy said he spoke with Zulu members extensively before giving them the go ahead to hold three bike night events. The first two have already been held, and the last will be tonight.
However, Loudy said the distinction has to be clear that the Mardi Gras is not the Zulus’ new clubhouse. Instead, they are customers like everyone who comes to the bar.
“It’s not like my place is full of Zulus,” he said. “There were like 10 guys in here last week, and I told them ‘You break the rules, you have to go.’ ”
Before allowing them to hold events inside the bar, Loudy said he told the bikers there would be no drugs, weapons, fighting or after-hours drinking. Plus, even though Loudy said he knows motorcycle clubs usually respect the events of others and do not show up unannounced or uninvited, the Zulus were forewarned the bike night events would be completely open to the public.
“And, I must say, these guys have been perfect gentlemen,” Loudy said. “Everything that I told them I had to have, they have done. This was an extremely tough decision by me, and there is still no promise they will be here.”
Councilman Forrest Bullocks, D-2nd Ward, said he had not heard the Zulus were back in Elyria but said the group is not entirely bad from what he learned the last time they were here.
“It wasn’t the group, but the clientele that liked to come to their club,” Bullocks said. “Maybe we won’t have the same problems because they will be the clientele.”
Bullocks said the Zulus support the work of Elyria police and about eight members even showed up at a fundraiser in support of last year’s failed police levy.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.