At 8:45 p.m. on Friday night, Leo’s Music Club in the Temescal was just beginning the night. Three DJs were slated to perform to a growing audience, and the club, which has been in operation for just over a year had a full lineup booked for the coming week, including a one-off show the coming Tuesday with Thee Oh Sees, a well-respected garage stalwart formerly based in San Francisco.
The show was just about to start when a familiar face entered the venue, accompanied by ten Oakland police officers, according to Leo’s Managing Partner Jason Perkins.
The man, Vincent Crudele — who appears to be employed by the Oakland Fire Department but is frequently described as working with the “Vegetation Management Bureau” — had visited the venue before, eight months earlier, causing a bit of a pandemonium among the staff members.
“He basically threw us against a wall like we were criminals,” Perkins explained to CBS SF about the incident. “I was like, ‘What are you doing? I’ve been in this business for 20 years, I have 11 businesses, why are you treating me like a criminal?’ And he says, ‘You are a criminal.’ He basically roughed us up, the whole staff.”
Following Crudele’s visit, Perkins, who also runs the Brick & Mortar music venue in San Francisco, filed a formal complaint. As he said, the administration with the Oakland Fire Department assured him they would take this matter seriously. That was last he heard on the incident — until last Friday.
Just before the show was due to begin, as Perkins says, Crudele and ten armed police officers (and 6-7 police cars) pulled up to Leo’s Music Club. They reportedly lined up patrons and staff, and informed everyone that the venue was now closed, and that anyone who tried to open the club over the weekend would be arrested. At this point, Leo’s Music Club says, officers began conducting a search.
“Nobody could understand what he was looking for. He was going through everything in our place,” he said. “He went through our store rooms, our boxes and our coolers…all that stuff. With the police right there, and he couldn’t find anything.”
Crudele, who has before been accused of conducting illegal searches under the guise of maintaining fire safety, issued Perkins a copy of the club’s Operating Conditions rather than a citation, and left the venue.
“My staff, the patrons, were totally horrified. On Monday morning at 9 a.m. I went and saw the head Fire Marshall and he said Jason, you shouldn’t have been closed,” Perkins told CBS SF. “I asked, ‘Well why did we have a police action taken against us?… [The Head Marshall] had no idea there were police involved, no idea that we were told to shut down.”
Following the event, Perkins is pursuing a restraining order against Crudele, and has canceled the Thee Oh Sees show scheduled for tonight (Aug. 25), telling the band he can’t guarantee their safety.
“We’ve had a known problem with this person,” he said. “We had a registered complaint and they assured me it wasn’t going to happen again and now he’s shown up twice to our place in the last eight months, just terrorizing us, essentially.”
Multiple calls and requests for comment from the Oakland Police Department and the Oakland Fire Department have not been answered as of this publishing.
Alyssa Pereira is a music writer, web producer, and pop culture blogger for CBS stations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Find her on Twitter at Alyssa Pereira