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Mission Implacable 

Peter Glikshtern used a tire iron on four interlopers in his Mission District bar. Then he beat their lawyer's attempt to make the fight a political caues.

Wednesday, Jul 5 2000

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"I'll bet the folks at the Residential Builders Association have no idea where the cool people are going to drink," Glikshtern says. "If not for the tremendous explosion of the Internet, there would be no development in the Mission and godforsaken parts of SOMA. We'll see how much of a gentrifier I am when the economy tanks. All those condos will be vacant. But my business will do just as well, because having a good time doesn't rely on being in a nice place to live."

Bars like Liquid annoy Ramirez. "It's odd to go by a bar in the Mission and see only white kids inside," he says. "An invasion of new businesses in the Mission have set an exclusionary tone, and there's anger in the Latino community about the dot-com gold rush and how they feel displaced by it."

When he heard that a group of Latinos were accosted at such a bar, by a white owner, Ramirez couldn't believe the district attorney had declined to prosecute. He complained, urging the DA's Office to review the case. It did, and still found the case without merit. Ramirez was convinced otherwise, and filed his lawsuit anyway. "I was horrified reading the police report," Ramirez says. "When there is a confrontation in the Mission that involves Latinos and whites, normally it's the Latino who gets arrested, but this time it was the white guy who police determined was the aggressor. That caught my attention."

Ramirez added defamation to the suit since Glikshtern told police that the man he ejected from Liquid, Fredy Parra, was a trafficker when there is no record to suggest Parra ever was.

Parra had told police that when he first left the bar, Glikshtern took him and a friend to a car parked outside, opened the trunk, and pulled out a gun to warn them not to return. Parra says he went home to call 911 and then came back to Liquid with three others to check on the friend they believed was still at the bar. Stopped by Glikshtern at the front door, Parra claims Glikshtern shouted he didn't want "any fucking Mexicans" in his club and proceeded to beat them with the tire iron. There is no record of the 911 call, and no one outside Liquid saw Glikshtern holding a gun, or yelling any racial epithets. Glikshtern does own a gun, but a police search of his car did not find one that night. Ramirez had nothing in court to back up his clients' story.

"What if I had 10 Latinos saying it was Glikshtern who attacked without provocation? And all my witnesses were cooks and servants, and couldn't speak English -- would that impress the jury?" says Ramirez, who claims the nearly all-white jury couldn't relate to his clients. "It was a confusing set of facts, I'll grant you that, and I didn't have the witnesses. But I had the word of three individuals, who, in spite of their poverty and lack of education, are hard-working and law-abiding people living in contrast to the stereotype of the Latino immigrant. A Latino jury would have perceived them differently."

Indeed, the men who confronted Glikshtern at Liquid don't have any past criminal convictions. "Even if they did have any record to speak of, they still didn't deserve to be whacked over the head with a crowbar," Ramirez says.

A motion by Ramirez for a new trial, one that would focus on the defamation charge against Glikshtern, was denied last month by San Francisco Superior Court Judge William A. Stone. Still, Ramirez won't accept the simple notion that perhaps his slighted clients went too far in trying to save face, and Glikshtern in turn overreacted.

Glikshtern has been overly zealous in handling barroom brawls before. At his first job as a bouncer in an Oakland nightclub, a fight Glikshtern helped break up resulted in a 1990 lawsuit in which he was named a defendant. The suit was eventually dropped. And Glikshtern admits some culpability in fanning the Liquid flare-up: "The moron that I am, the third thing out of my mouth was probably something like, 'I'm gonna shoot you if you hit me,'" he says. "It was just the standard bullshit talk when you're in a bar altercation."

"I know Pete," says Ragunath Dindial, a longtime friend who served as one of Glikshtern's attorneys in the Liquid case. "He can be a bit of an asshole, but not a racist. There's a big difference."

But Ramirez believes that Glikshtern's business model of opening low-overhead nightclubs in undesirable areas has a hidden agenda. Since Liquid has been a hugely profitable success, Glikshtern has introduced a new club, Six, on Sixth Street in the Tenderloin District -- an area that is arguably more destitute than Liquid's Mission location was three years ago. "Glikshtern is on a crusade; he knows these are bad areas and he's making a point to clean them up," says Ramirez. "But he's gone too far, putting the prostitutes, Mexicans, and drug dealers all together."

During an e-mail campaign he launched against Liquid, Ramirez was able to generate a fair amount of public outcry. Glikshtern did his best to quell the uproar by replying to the messages himself, arguing point by point all the charges against him.

"It was either that or go hide under a rock. People were incensed, and had I not countered this bullshit, there would've been more of a groundswell," Glikshtern says. "Fortunately, most people in this neighborhood have a functioning brain. I don't know how many hours I spent defending myself by e-mail, but it turned out OK. There wasn't a lynch mob outside my door the next day."

In his defense, Glikshtern was often hotheaded, lashing back in his messages with the same vehemence his critics used in theirs. Many disagreed with his claims that he'd faced hardships as an immigrant, saying that unlike Latino residents in the Mission, Glikshtern's home and culture were not the object of attack here. One person scoffed, saying Arnold Schwarzenegger is also an immigrant, and the odds were hardly stacked against him.

About The Author

Joel P. Engardio


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