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August 2005
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Utah media torn

Coverage of the attacked rave continues, and media sources in very conservative Utah are trying to figure out how to deal with it. The most confused appears to be the Daily Herald.
The first half of the opinion piece is paragraph after paragraph of law-and-order mantra, supporting the police activity and opining that the young people were wrong in their complaints about force, culminating in:

Clearly, some enforcement was needed in Diamond Fork on Saturday night.

Let’s state some basic facts, just for the record. Officers of the law carry guns. It is part of what they do. They often carry nonlethal weapons, too, such as bean-bag launchers or tear gas. They make plans for dealing with potentially difficult situations. Why? Because it’s their job to enforce the laws that have been duly enacted by elected authorities.

It’s called enforcement for a reason. Police don’t need to ask politely.

The best way to stay out of range of the police is to obey the law. It’s a lesson too many people have not learned.

But then, they veer off…

Having said that, however, we are concerned about the process that led to this raid, starting with Utah County permits. Commissioner Steve White was strangely evasive on this question. When asked point-blank whether a mass-gathering permit had been issued, he said he would not answer. He referred the Herald to law enforcement sources and the county attorney’s office.

Childs, the property owner, said all the permits were in order and that officers seized them at the gate. It was a legal gathering, she said.

To be sure, there were a number of drug- and alcohol-related arrests and citations arising from the rave. These are fair game by any measure. Once a crime is committed, a permit may be considered null and void. But of the 43 citations reported by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, about half appear directly related to the raid itself — disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and related acts. Most of the others could have been dealt with on a case-by-case basis, without shutting down a concert at which the majority were not breaking the law.

A massive police assault on virtually any public gathering (a BYU football game, for example) would uncover similar illegalities, from drugs to weapons to expired driver’s licenses. But if a crime is committed during a BYU football game, the game is not stopped. Offenders are trundled off individually. A general suspicion that something illegal might happen at a public gathering, even a rave, may not be the best basis from which to launch a major law enforcement action.

What a shift in tone! Almost like they couldn’t possibly state the second half to their readers without first affirming their law-and-order credentials in the first half.
And it’s a very important statement that they make. Read it again…

But if a crime is committed during a BYU football game, the game is not stopped.

Exactly.
The Salt Lake City weekly had less concern about establishing their bonafides in their article: Iraq in Utah.
Just a slight nod…

Law-enforcement officers — so often overworked, underpaid and underappreciated — deserve the respect of citizenry. But based on personal accounts and digital-camera footage of that evening that have flooded the Internet since, even the most die-hard supporter of the local constabulary would feel remiss not asking questions.

And then go for the jugular:

There’s something telling, too, about the fact that the Sheriff’s Office learned at noon that day where the rave would commence, but waited more than two hours into the music — until 11:30 p.m. — to make 60 arrests and demand the area be cleared. Much was made of one young raver who “overdosed on ecstasy,” and then was released to her parents. If disaster was so imminent, and warranted 90 men in uniform, why wasn’t the rave politely stopped before it started? Perhaps because the spectacle of an outdoor event, like a rave itself, is a lot more fun than sitting at home.

Ouch.

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