Last year there was an outrageous abuse of power in Racine, Wisconsin, where hundreds of music fans were ticketed for being in a crowded nightclub where a few people used drugs. Those ticketed had no drugs on them. The police didn’t even have any evidence that they had ever used drugs. Their only “crime” was dancing at a nightclub where other people who used drugs were arrested. Although only three drug arrests were made, police issued citations to 445 innocent attendees with a penalty of $968 each for being "patrons of a disorderly house." Thanks to a public outcry from people like you, work by the Drug Policy Alliance, and an ACLU lawsuit, the citations were ultimately dismissed.
Now, it has happened again; this time in Flint, Michigan. On Saturday the local police raided a popular nightclub, Club What’s Next, and ticketed music fans who were attending a dance night known as “Getting Lucky” (the DJs included Halluci-Nate, Sparkimus Prime, White Rabbit, Captain Cheddar and California's Dj Primo.) While some people were arrested for possessing or selling illegal drugs, most people were ticketed for “frequenting a drug establishment,” a misdemeanor offense.
Speak out against this abuse of power now.
That’s right. In Flint, Michigan (and many other cities) if you go out dancing on a Saturday night and the police happen to arrest other people at the club for drugs, you could be charged with a drug crime even though you had nothing to do with drugs. These innocent party-goers now face up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine. They also face a criminal record with all the legal and social barriers that brings. Several people at the club that night told us club-goers were also subjected to strip searches, including full cavity searches – even though they had nothing to do with drugs. Imagine the police walking into your favorite bar or nightclub and making you submit to a strip search for no reason! Imagine spending 90 days in jail or paying a $500 fine for dancing!
The raid on Club What’s Next was conducted by Flint's Special Operations and Crime Area Target Team units, along with the Flint Area Narcotics Group and the Genesee County Sheriff's Posse. We’re looking into whether or not federal Byrne grant money helped finance the raids. (On a side note, any law enforcement agency that has the word “posse” in it should be suspect).
You can send a message that this type of action is unacceptable by doing two things:
1) Contact the Flint City Council and Mayor and let them know how appalled you are that the city mistreats music fans and allows the police to punish people for the crimes of others.
2) Forward this alert to your e-mail lists and to friends and family. We need to flood the Flint political establishment with faxes and emails.
The Drug Policy Alliance would like to give a special thanks to Will Patterson at the Electronic Music Defense Fund (EM:DEF) for alerting us to this scandal. He found out about the incident because one of the club-goers filed an incident report on EM:DEF’s web site. If your rights are ever violated by the police at a music event, you can file a similar report there. Copies of incident reports go to EM:DEF, the ACLU, and the Drug Policy Alliance.