Chris Cotter has been busy lately. From patching drywall, replacing ceiling tiles, installing a fan and doing away with clutter and exposed wiring, to meticulously measuring six inches out from the entrance and exit doors of 1919 Hemphill — a well-known DIY venue on the south side of Fort Worth, Texas — to affix fire extinguishers in the exact, precise location that the city fire code requires.
Cotter, a collective member and co-caretaker of the venue, is applying a little elbow grease to a space founded in 2002 and long-beloved by punks, radicals and outcasts of all stripes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, to get the space up to code after the city’s fire department received several complaints regarding fire code violations and safety hazards at 1919.
Even though the venue passed its fire inspection “with flying colors” back in May, he is now under fire to obtain a proper certificate of occupancy that would allow the collective to legally host assemblies within 30 days of December 22. If the space remains open after that timeframe without the certificate, it will be fined $2,000 a day.
If 1919 closes its doors, the community would lose a hub for leftist organizing efforts, a refuge for misfits and services for the homeless, as well as a place for hundreds of different bands to make a little cash on the road in between Oklahoma City and Austin.
The complaints almost certainly have their origins in an anonymous message board online, called 4chan in which neo-Nazi and other white nationalist groups have discussed their plans to target DIY spaces like 1919 and shut them down. They are exploiting the recent warehouse…