MMA fight moved from murder scene after protests | News
TAMPA, Fla. -- Only a small group of protestors stood outside Club Empire Friday night, yet they got big results. An MMA fight scheduled inside the club got yanked at the last minute.
"I am so elated," says protest organizer Michelle Williams. "My heart is just smiling with joy that we...just a few, just a few...that we have that much power to say, 'You know what? When enough is enough, we're going to do something about it.'"
Williams and a half dozen others carried signs in protest of the MMA fight because they say it promotes violence just weeks after the murder of Leslie Jones Jr. inside Club Empire. Jones's friends and family were even more upset because promotional materials for the fight featured two monkeys holding handguns.
Barely an hour before the doors were set to open, Tampa fire marshals told event promoters they didn't have the proper permits to hold the fight inside Club Empire. The protestors told 10 News it was their involvement that prompted the investigation by the fire marshal.
The last-minute change pushed MMA organizers to stand outside, directing spectators to a different venue. "From our understanding, there were some protestors that protested against this particular building having any events. They're trying to shut it down," says James with Highlander MMA.
Michelle Williams responded, "I'm not even remorseful about him not being able to hold this event here tonight, because this owner of this nightclub does not deserve to make another dollar."
While Club Empire remains open, against the Jones family's protest, tonight's cancellation represents a small victory for Leslie Jones's mother, Sharon. "That's wonderful," Sharon told us. "That's one step ahead. But as [the club owners] know, I'm going to keep fighting because I want it closed, and I'm not going to stop until they close it."
Management for Club Empire refused comment to 10 News.
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