Taveras responds after owner of troubled bar lashes out

The owner of The $3 Bar comes out swinging after a licensing board hearing at which the city wants to shut down his Federal Hill establishment.

"This is not a hearing. This is a witch hunt," Gianfranco Marrocco told reporters at Providence City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Marrocco is in the city's cross-hairs after a deadly beating behind the bar last week and a brawl out front over the weekend.

"Acts of violence like this can happen anywhere. It could happen in front of a church," he claimed.

Marrocco took aim at Mayor Angel Taveras, who is running for governor.

"He wants to run the state. He should run back to the Dominican Republic," Marrocco said.

Taveras, who was born here, tried to make light of the comment.

"I don't know if he's part of a birther movement or what," the mayor told NBC 10.

Taveras says he wants the bar shut down in a move to eliminate violence.

"I think that we need to do what we need to do with respect to making sure we keep the city safe. I'm going to continue to do everything I can to make sure that happens," he said.

Marrocco didn't keep his criticism to the mayor. He also blasted other business owners on Federal Hill who have been vocal in calling for The $3 Bar to shut down.

Marrocco claims they don't like the diverse crowd he brings in.

"Because all these people are stuck in the 1950's I gotta back down?" he said. "Yes, I'm calling them all racist, because if not, they wouldn't be making all this noise."

Chris Tarro, who owns Siena restaurant next to The $3 Bar, has been one of the vocal critics who wants the bar closed. He points out there are a number of non-Italian establishments on Federal Hill that nobody has a problem with.

"This is just about people doing the right thing in their business and on the streets. Nothing more, nothing less," Tarro said. "All we want is the right actions by the guests and customers that come up here and the business owners. I don't care if you're purple, tall, short, what you look like."

The licensing board hearing is on hold following a dispute over security camera video. Board members did not want to make a permanent decision on the future of The $3 Bar until they see surveillance video from the weekend fight.

The attorney for the bar did not want to give it up.

The issue will go to Superior Court.