Truth Lounge owners file suit against Natchez mayor, aldermen, police chief

Published 6:42 pm Thursday, October 26, 2023

NATCHEZ — Owners of the Truth Lounge filed a lawsuit on Oct. 19 against the City of Natchez, Mayor Dan Gibson and the Board of Aldermen and Natchez Police Chief Cal Green.

Rickey O. Banks and David Haywood, the lounge’s owners, do not in this lawsuit seek a monetary award. Rather, they seek a temporary restraining order, application for a preliminary injunction and a request for declaration of rights, according to the suit filed in Adams County Circuit Court.

Also on Oct. 19, Banks and Haywood through their attorneys from The Cochran Firm of Jackson filed an agreed order which was signed by Sixth District Circuit Court Judge Debra Blackwell, allowing the Truth Lounge to reopen until such a time as the city could hold a hearing on the matter.

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The new lawsuit seeks to move the matter from the jurisdiction of the city to that of the courts.

The suit asks the court to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the City of Natchez and the others named in the lawsuit from taking any action to prevent or prohibit Truth Lounge from opening during its regular hours of business throughout the time before the issue is settled permanently.

Further, Banks and Haywood ask for an order of preliminary injunction preventing those named in the suit from taking any action that affects or interferes with the issues raised in the application and their rights until the merits of the case are resolved.

In support of their motion, Banks and Haywood say the city posted a letter on the front of their business on Saturday, Oct. 14, indicating the lounge was closed until further notice due to “imminent threat to the public health and safety of staff, patrons, and the citizens of Natchez.” The letter said the threat was posed by a recent event occurring “on and around” the premises of Truth Lounge.

The mayor and board of aldermen held a special meeting that Saturday afternoon where aldermen voted to temporarily close Truth Lounge following “a fight in the Truth Lounge that spilled out onto streets and threatened residents and law enforcement,” reported a story in The Natchez Democrat. At that special meeting, as reported by the newspaper, city law enforcement claimed Truth Lounge “has become a danger to the nightclub’s patrons and citizens of Natchez.”

Banks and Haywood say prior to that Saturday, they were not given notice of closure, of a special meeting regarding closure and no indication from city representatives that Truth Lounge was subject to closure, temporary or otherwise.

The two say in the suit they have worked with city officials and followed a plan devised by law enforcement after receiving a letter dated Sept. 6 referencing “nuisance activities at or near the Truth Lounge.” Banks and Haywood met with city officials on Sept. 11 and in the meeting a plan was devised.

“At the close of the Sept 11 meeting, the city advised Petitioners that they were satisfied with the plan moving forward and that no further response to the warning letter was required,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit claims the city violated due process and questions the constitutionality and validity of acts and city ordinances and says the city failed to comply with state and city ordinances when it called its special meeting.

No one named in the suit was immediately available for comment today.

Read the full lawsuit here.