Judge’s order leads way for Truth Lounge to re-open — at least temporarily

Published 9:44 pm Thursday, October 19, 2023

NATCHEZ — Adams County Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell late this afternoon signed an order that allowed the Truth Lounge on Franklin Street to reopen immediately.

In a special meeting on Saturday, Mayor Dan Gibson, along with Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall, Ward 3 Alderwoman Sarah Carter Smith, and Ward 6 Alderman Curtis Moroney voted to immediately close the nightclub after an early morning brawl on Saturday inside the lounge and outside on the streets overwhelmed Natchez Police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

Ward 2 Alderman Billie Joe Frazier, Ward 4 Alderwoman Felicia Bridgewater-Irving and Ward 5 Alderman Ben Davis did not attend the Saturday special meeting.

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Blackwell’s ordered the City of Natchez to immediately cease and desist with any efforts to close Truth Lounge until further notice from the court.

Blackwell’s order will remain in effect until further ordered and/or other formal proceedings before the City of Natchez

Blackwell said owners Rickey Banks and David Haywood could immediately re-open until a permanent hearing, provided they provide security as was agreed at the first meeting with city officials on Sept. 11. They must stop allowing new patrons into the lounge beginning at 1 a.m. She said patrons could remain in the lounge for a reasonable amount of time after 1 a.m. so they can finish their food or drinks.

Further, Blackwell said Truth Lounge security would be responsible for ensuring the roadway and sidewalk immediately in front of the premises are free from loitering at all times while the nightclub is open.

Banks and Haywood said they are happy with the court’s decision and look forward to a permanent hearing on the matter.

“We know this is a marathon, not a sprint,” Haywood said Thursday night outside his lounge, located at 719-1/2 Franklin.

Attorneys Terris Harris and Jeffrey M. Graves of The Cochran Firm in Jackson are representing Banks and Haywood and their business.

City Attorney Bryan Callaway represented the City of Natchez.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said he learned about the court’s decision late Thursday afternoon.

“Just a few minutes ago we were advised that a court order has been issued allowing the business to operate on a limited basis for the time being as long as certain conditions are followed, including an earlier closing time of 1 a.m. We are just now processing this action and have no further comments at this time,” Gibson said.

Read the full court order here.