Bessemer closes down Gip's Place for not having a business licen

Bessemer closes down Gip's Place for not having a business license

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Source: WBRC video Source: WBRC video
The exterior of Gip's Place. Source: Alan Collins The exterior of Gip's Place. Source: Alan Collins
BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

A "juke joint" in Bessemer called "Gip's Place" is closed after city leaders say it is operating illegally.

Since 1952 Henry "Gip" Gipson says that he's been throwing a party every Saturday night for his friends and anyone who would show up. Saturday night, police shut it down. Video of the incident was provided to FOX6 by a documentary crew who was already at the hangout with their cameras rolling.

"They have been warned not to open up for about a year," Bessemer Deputy Chief Mike Roper said.

Roper says the raid was no surprise because police have gone over zoning procedures with Gipson and have met with Gipson as recently as 30 days ago. Roper says some neighbors have complained about noise, traffic and some people urinating on their property.

Toraine Norris, who works in the mayor's office, says city leaders are willing to work with Gipson, if he gets the proper license and secures necessary zoning requirements.

"He is operating a business there in an area zoned residential. They have to go to the planning board and get zoned as a business," Norris said.

Supporters say no profit is made at Gip's Place, so it is not technically a business and should not require a license. They claim everyone brings their own drinks and a $10 donation can be made at the door and that they money is given to the band.

Gip's supporters plan to be at Bessemer's city council meeting tomorrow night, to protest the closure.

Gipson has been touched by all of the support he has gotten and vows to keep the party going this week.

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