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DNA Lounge rejects SFPD surveillance

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DNA Lounge Sound Check
Owners of the DNA Lounge are standing up to an SFPD request to turn over club video surveillance footage anytime it is requested. (Jan Szpila/Wikimedia)

San Francisco nightclub DNA Lounge is challenging the San Francisco Police Department after the club refused to agree to surrender surveillance footage whenever it is requested.

DNA Lounge owner Jamie Zawinski wrote on the club’s blog that a police officer called him to “remind” the club that it is required to maintain surveillance records and then give the records to SFPD without a warrant or explanation.

Zawinksi writes that he told the officer that maintaining and turning over surveillance data was not a condition of the SoMa nightclub’s permit.

According to the blog, later that day, DNA Lounge general manager Barry¬†Synoground¬†received a call from another officer explaining that while it isn’t mandatory to keep surveillance of customers, the night club should “consider” it.

Synoground explained that it was indeed considered, and rejected, which is why they worked so hard to have this condition not be part of their permit.

Zawinksi writes that a representative from the Entertainment Commission told the club that “everybody’s” permit now has this requirement and that “nobody else has fought it.”

After a flurry of nightclub shootings and the slaying of a German tourist near Union Square in 2010, police proposed a set of strict restrictions on club owners, including more security patrols and video surveillance.

In 2011, a proposal stalled to require all nightclubs to install surveillance cameras, metal detectors and sending ID scans to a database. It seems that the surveillance portion, though, has snuck its way into San Francisco entertainment permits.

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