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Philadelphia Bar Manager Discusses Mardi Gras Disturbance

Aired February 28, 2001 - 1:25 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: More than 100 people were arrested in Philadelphia overnight after a Mardi Gras celebration there became violent. Police say revelers smashed windows and looted a dozen stores in Philadelphia's South Street entertainment district and threw bottles at officers who tried to clear the streets.

This was Philadelphia, right, not New Orleans.

Rich Frank is general manager of the Fat Tuesday bar on South Street. He joins us by phone.

And, Rich, we hear that you've had an hour of sleep the past 48 hours, and now your bar's been trashed. Not a good time for you, I guess.

RICH FRANK, GENERAL MANAGER, FAT TUESDAY BAR: No, it's been a rough time.

ALLEN: Oh, my. What happened last night?

FRANK: Oh, probably 50,000 people came down to South Street to take part in Mardi Gras. And around 11:30, things got way out of hand.

ALLEN: What do you think caused all this? Who were these people?

FRANK: I'd say the troublemakers were probably in the age from 16 to 20 years old or 16 to 18. And they were just a bunch of hooligans with no respect for people, property or the police at all. They were throwing -- they were taunting police and throwing things at them.

ALLEN: So you don't really know how it started? Was it just...

FRANK: Well, I know when the general mayhem broke out, what happened was the police, they were getting attacked from everywhere so they mobilized at one end of the street to push everybody off the street, to clear the street. And as they went from one end of the street to move everyone off, it just -- there was no control at the other end of the street and they were -- as they were getting pushed off the street, like, a couple hundred people were just smashing everything as they were getting pushed off.

ALLEN: And what happened to your place, to your business?

FRANK: Actually, you know, fortunately for us, we were totally unscathed by it.

ALLEN: Oh, all right.

FRANK: It happened from basically a half a block down from me on about seven blocks, from 5th Street to 12th Street. I'm on the 400 block.

ALLEN: Well, I know that you had worked to put this together, this celebration. It has to feel like a shame to see what was supposed to be a fun night turn into something like this. How are you feeling about this today?

FRANK: I feel pretty poorly about it. You know, the last five years of my professional life has been to create Mardi Gras in Philadelphia and it's now got a huge black eye. And I'm embarrassed to be from Philadelphia, the type of people that -- you know, the kids that were out last night, you know, it's embarrassing.

ALLEN: What message are city people, you know, like you trying to send to the folks that we're seeing on the TV screen that caused all of this?

FRANK: Well, I'm sure if Mardi Gras happens next year, it's going to be handled in a completely different way. I'm sure the police are going to be working real hard on it to take -- to make, you know, make sure that this doesn't happen again.

ALLEN: Well, we thank you so much. And we hope it doesn't. Rich Frank, thanks for talking with us there, from Philadelphia.

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