After only reporting the press release put out by the Sheriff yesterday (and getting some heat for it), Utah papers are starting to explore the other side:
In the Salt Lake Tribune:
Partygoers at a rave in Spanish Fork Canyon that was busted by police Saturday night say officers used brutal and excessive force to clear the crowd.
As many as 90 police officers from several agencies, including SWAT members and major crimes investigators, stormed the DJ-driven dance party around 11:30 p.m. dressed in full SWAT gear and holding automatic weapons.
A helicopter announced the police presence as it crested a nearby hill and began shining a spotlight on the outdoor dance area, said 19-year-old Scott Benton of Logan.
“The cops just came in wearing full Army [camouflage]. It was basically brute force,” Benton said. “I had a gun put in my face and was told to get out of there.”
Standing in a crowd of people near the main stage, Alisha Matagi says she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was thrown to the ground, punched, kicked and handcuffed by police.
And it is so clear that the police really wanted to get these ravers. They weren’t interested in safety. And they certainly weren’t interested in helping promoters follow the legal complexities.
Saturday’s party, named Versus II, had been tracked by police for several weeks, Gilbert said. Police planned the bust when they discovered that the rave’s promoters had not filed for a mass gathering permit through the County Commission office. To have more than 250 at an event without that permit is a violation of the law, Gilbert said.
Party promotor Brandon Fullmer said he purchased a mass gathering permit through the Utah County Health Department about three weeks ago. The purchase of that permit, which ensures water, sanitation and medical services, was confirmed by County Health employee Jay Stone.
Fullmer did not know that a similar permit, which requires a security plan and event details, needed to be acquired.
The sheriff had little sympathy for the promoters or those at the rave. “They did nothing more than ensure this was a venue for illegal drug use and consumption,” Tracy said.
So the police knew for three weeks. They planned their assault, chortling to themselves that the promoter didn’t have all the paperwork. Now look at this picture. Instead of getting 90 officers, a helicopter, dogs and guns, paying overtime, etc., couldn’t somebody have called up Brandon Fullmer (his phone number was probably on the health permit that he got) and say “Oh, by the way, you also need this other permit.” No, they hate the culture and the people who are involved in raves so much that they wanted the event to happen so that Utah County Sheriff James Tracy could storm in like Lt. Colonel Kilgore in Apocolypse Now (“I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”)
And now we learn that even the permit issue is still in question. In the Provo Daily Herald
Brandon Fullmer, manager of the Uprock Records company that promoted the event, argues that he also obtained the mass gathering permit. He said authorities were denying him a copy of it for proof, but a county official agreed to write a letter verifying it.
“We were not there to start any problems,” Fullmer said. “What the cops did was wrong.”
Regardless, Utah County authorities defended the raid.
“That’s all smoke and mirrors,” said County Commissioner Steve White. “They were selling drugs. They were committing illegal acts, and as soon as that happened it doesn’t matter what kind of permit they had.”
Oh, so now it didn’t matter what kind of permit they had? (sounds like an admission to me that Fullmer did have the right permits) I thought the lack of permit was the justification. But now they’re saying that the promoters were “selling drugs.”
But no, that wasn’t the case. And of course, even attempts by the promoters to limit drug use at the event were turned against them:
Among those arrested for drug possession were several security guards hired by Fullmer to patrol the event. Guards at security check points confiscated alcohol and drugs as ravers filed into the party, Fullmer said.
“[Security guards] have no legal statutory authority to take and hold controlled substances. It’s against the law for them to have them,” Tracy said.
Yep. No interest in safety. No interest in actually dealing with drug use. They just hate those young people and their music and their glow sticks and they want to arrest them and beat them and make them go away.
Sheriff Tracy — that’s not how this country works. And some day, you’ll be made to pay for your crimes (unfortunately, it’s the citizens in Utah who will probably have to pay — and the attorneys in the lawsuits who will benefit). But maybe that will make the citizens set up and say “Sheriff Tracy has to go.”)