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Surprise Ruling for Black Businessmen Charged in E2 Nightclub Tragedy

Surprise Ruling for Black Businessmen Charged in E2 Nightclub Tragedy
Surveillance camera shot of patrons crushed in the doorway of E2 Nightclub in 2003.

Talk about a reversal of fortune.

An appellate court threw out the two-year jail sentences for Calvin Hollins and Dwain Kyles, a pair of black businessmen found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal contempt in the deaths of 21 patrons of their E2 nightclub. Each was sentenced to two years in prison, but were free on appeal.

On Feb. 17, 2003, the picturesque two-story E2 nightclub, located in Chicago’s South Loop, became hell on earth for partygoers. A fight broke out on the dance floor, and when a security guard sprayed pepper spray, an eye irritant meant to debilitate an offender, the mist lingered thick in the crowd.

The VIP patrons, located on the second floor of the club, stampeded downstairs, bodies jammed the exit, and 21 people were crushed to death in the melee.

In 2007, Hollins was acquitted of the criminal charges; in 2008, the criminal charges were dropped against Kyles. However, in 2009, the city convicted Hollins and Kyles of failure to adhere to a housing court order to close the second floor of the nightclub, an area that was cited for its structural problems.

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