After having its entertainment license dramatically yanked Feb. 18 because of gang-related shootings, the Knitting Factory Concert House in Spokane will reopen for business Feb. 23.
The threat of an indefinite closure has passed. All is well again. Spokane punk band Storm Normandy and other local acts will rock the stage. Fans will pound beers and down shots. Downtown Spokane can get back to being good ol' SpokeCompton.
OK, that's jaded: The Knitting Factory and Spokane police met on Feb. 21, came to an agreement and emerged with the belief they can work together to improve safety.
Still, the dark-cloud question that loomed over the situation from the moment Spokane's new police chief made the Knit a scapegoat remains unanswered, not to mention unaddressed: Are concert venues responsible for the off-site behavior of their patrons?
Two people were shot after 2 a.m. Feb. 18 across the street in a parking lot not operated by the Knitting Factory. Two more were shot less than an hour later at an apartment complex 17 blocks away. Nobody was injured critically. No arrests had been made at press time.
Despite the fact they happened after business hours, these incidents, coupled with a large number of police and EMS calls to the Knit in the past year, caused Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub to lower the boom on the Knit, citing "public safety concerns."
"We're not going to tolerate this type of behavior in any of our neighborhoods," he said, "let alone downtown."
That is reassuring news for the fine people of Spokane.
But what does it have to do with waging a war on concerts and the mostly law-abiding people who enjoy them?
Knitting Factory also operates concert clubs in Boise, Reno, Nev., and Brooklyn, N.Y.
If the Knit in Spokane is such a hotbed for trouble, why wasn't a patrol car instructed to cruise through that parking lot after the show, which was a third-party rental for a DJ dance party? (Incidentally, no trouble was reported inside the club that night.)
Is Knitting Factory security supposed to pin toy badges on their shirts, comb the neighborhood after events and unleash vigilante justice on gang members who stow guns in their vehicles? (A metal detector prevents weapons from coming into the Knit.)
Where does the responsibility of a business end? Where does the responsibility of police - brave public servants paid with citizen tax dollars to fight crime - begin?
These are tough questions. Maybe they aren't all entirely fair questions. This isn't a simple issue, and we aren't privy to all the facts. It should be noted that the city of Spokane had already spoken to the Knit about issues related to the club.
But did Spokane police have the right to indefinitely suspend the Knit's entertainment license because of events that occurred off the club's property and after business hours?
According to Spokane municipal code, it appears ... yes.
However, that's not the sort of question that the Knitting Factory probably dared pose this week. At least not publicly and combatively.
When you are in danger of losing money by the fistful, it behooves you to deal with city officials by pointing your thumbs skyward, grinning and asking, "What can I do for you?" Even if you believe you are right and they are wrong.
Knitting Factory has fostered a working relationship with officials in other cities that has not resulted in this sort of heavy-handed spanking.
Even if the Knitting Factory is not directly responsible for crime in Spokane, it makes sense to want to help curb it. Customers catching bullets - even across the street - is bad for business.
But it doesn't change the fundamental question about where the onus should fall in this supposed land of the free.
A "Keep the Knitting Factory Open" Facebook page had attracted 3,400 members by Feb. 21. It contained plenty of predictable drivel, but also thoughtful discussion.
"If I'm sitting with my friends at a McDonald's talking about robbing the bank across the street, does that make McDonald's responsible for the bank robbery?" asked a commenter who said she has taken her children to the Knit. "Shut them down, the Big Mac made me do it!"
A commenter at the Spokesman-Review website felt decidely less safe downtown: "I carry a sidearm quite often going to and from work. This is daily, not just during events."
(Side note: Ever check out the scene at the bus station in downtown Spokane? Zoinks, Scooby.)
To an outsider from Boise - where our biggest worry downtown is how to find close, free parking - it appears that Spokane has more pertinent things to do than wave its finger at the Knitting Factory.
Maybe city officials should be thankful that a concert venue wants to do business downtown at all.
Michael Deeds' column runs Friday in Scene and Sunday in Life. He hosts "The Other Studio" at 9 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 The River.