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Police officer injured, man arrested at Sahara Club; club has checkered past

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A Bismarck officer was injured and a 34-year-old man arrested early Sunday when police responded to a noise complaint at a nonalcoholic nightclub with a checkered past that authorities say was open after hours.

Police about 2 a.m. were called to the Sahara Club in the Gateway Mall, according to the Bismarck Police Department. Officers asked to speak with the operator of the club at the door and were escorted by private security to the front stage, where the operator, Ivan Makuve, was playing music. About 100 people were dancing, police said.

As an officer spoke with Makuve about a permit to be open, a patron of the club, 34-year-old Malon Philips, allegedly pushed one officer out of the way, pushed another to the ground and charged at a third. He continued to fight with police until he was detained, authorities said.

One officer suffered a head injury and minor cuts. The officer and Philips were taken to a Bismarck hospital for treatment of injuries. Neither was admitted to the hospital, Bismarck Police Officer Lynn Wanner said. Philips, of Williston, was charged Monday with misdemeanor preventing arrest. Court documents did not list an attorney for him.

The club under city ordinance can stay open until 1 a.m., according to Wanner. It could be open later for a dance marathon or a public dance but only after getting a permit. No permit was issued, Wanner said.

Makuve told the Tribune nobody was dancing in the club when police came.

“If nobody is dancing we can operate until whatever time we want to,” he said.

The club’s parking lot after closing time on Sept. 13 was the scene of a number of fights. A 20-year-old man suffered head injuries, 14 police officers responded, and one man was arrested for obstructing police and resisting arrest. The department last year responded to numerous other calls for service including three assaults -- one in March, one in June and one in August.

The club does not serve alcohol or food and targets a clientele age 18 and up. It closed after losing its lease in October. The lease was on a month-to-month basis and mall management at that time said only that they did not want to continue it. The club reopened Dec. 30. It's unclear under what circumstances the reopening was allowed.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or Travis.Svihovec@bismarcktribune.com

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