For Police States to Triumph, Good People Must Hi-five the Cops

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For today's update to the Utah rave-crackdown story, I'll just excerpt from this Provo Daily Herald editorial, and tremble for Utah by reflecting that even a Mormon God might be just:

If you want to rave, you've got to behave. […]

Was this raid a bit heavy-handed? Should the entire weight of police weaponry (including military-style guns capable of full-automatic fire), special tactics, dogs and helicopters be used to break up a music concert with a few hundred kids, some of whom are drunk or high? There are only a couple of ways out of the Childs property, and a crowd is easily contained. Is this truly a situation that requires full riot gear, including black face coverings that lend a Ninja-like quality to the operation?

Such questions can be answered another time […]

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.

UPDATE: What's particularly poignant is that these comments come in the context of an editorial presented as keeping a mature balance between the "massive police assault," and "the atmosphere of unrestraint [that] fosters sexual assaults, drug overdoses, car burglaries, driving under the influence and other problems." The final line of the piece is a perfect illustration of how important goalposts are moved not necessarily by loyal foot soldiers, but by detached observers ever searching for a pragmatic balance: "It's a sticky wicket that illustrates some of the ambiguities inherent in a free society and the balance between freedom and responsibility."

NEXT: Al-Qatfish

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  1. First half of the article was indicative of the society in which we live, I think – as I misspelled earlier today, those who have done nothing wrong have nothing to fear – but the second half at least questioned the authority figures involved.

  2. And for those who obey the law, but get caught in the middle of stuff like this, well they’re just collateral damage in the battle for a safe society.

  3. I’m on a house-music email list for Arizona folks to discuss house-music and post goings-on and whatnot.

    You’d be surprised at how many of them said things like…”drugs are illegal, don’t be surprised if you do drugs you get in trouble.” And, “the kids getting beaten up probably resisted, so they deserved what they got.” And, “the cops where just doing their jobs.”

    You know, shit like that. Kinda like the Abu Gharib apologisers. 🙂

    Not that those statements are necessarily false, but you would think that a group of folks that is into some of the same kinds of things as those “ravers” would be a little more sympathetic.

    Oh yeah, and someone argued with me that your income has nothing to do with whether or not you’ll encounter or be harassed by police.

    Oops, I’m sure someone will here, too. 🙂

  4. I read the editorial you linked to, and I think it’s far more balanced than your excerpts and comments suggest. In fact I think it’s clear that he believes the overwhelming police presence was inappropriate, which is the only area of complaint where the standard of evidence is high. For the record, I believe if all of the allegations made at utrave.org are accurate that criminal charges against some of the officers involved should be filed (outside Utah, by preference). I’m not prepared to accept those assertions as fact without more evidence than has been presented, however.

  5. Lowdog, that sure isn’t the PLUR mentality I saw when I used to go to raves in the mid-90s. Damn, have things changed for the worse or what?

    I bet the kids nowadays wouldn’t even know what the hell the “Criminal Justice Act” is when it’s mentioned in songs by The Prodigy or even The Streets. Then again, much the same can likely be said for their awareness of the RAVE Act here in the states. Sad.

    (To those not in the know, the Criminal Justice Act was the first-ever targetted “Anti-Rave” law, passed by Britain and loathed worldwide by techno artists and rave participants at the time in the 90s because it effectively dismantled the scene.)

  6. Well lets see how well the sheriff’s department back pedals on this one.

    I realize that police have a tough job to do, but if they can’t do it right and respect others while performing it, they have no damn business being an officer. Innocence until proven guilty is suppose to be the catch phrase. Not to mention that ravers are usually pretty harmless….give them a binky and some lights and they will do whatever you say. 😉

  7. “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.”

    Apparently obeying the law isn’t enough here in Flinttown:

    http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/380/clubraid.shtml

  8. Alan — I’m actually more *alarmed* by the fact that this was an attempt at balance. In fact, in order to avoid being called “emotionally deceitful” again, I think I’ll edit the post to make that point.

  9. I wrote my local paper (The Seattle P-I) and asked why they have not reported on this story. I think the anti-partyers want this to disappear really fast.

    And the question I’d like to know is: what would have happened if the police/army had done nothing?

  10. what would have happened if the police/army had done nothing?

    These drug cops (Mormon drug cops, to boot) probably think civilization would have ended.

  11. If we keep going this way Osama will come to love us.

  12. Matt, what do you expect from a Provo newspaper? I’m surprised (and gratified) that they even saw there was a balance to be struck. Ask Ken Layne what the Reno rag would’ve run, in the same circumstances.

  13. Shelby — It’s always good to be reminded of these things. And also of how federal draw laws & hysteria can play out on the local level.

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

    Well for you stupid PF’s in Utah and for you youngsters reading here, I would remind you of something Ernie Hancock once said:

    Law Enforcement Officers used to be called Peace Officers

  15. “Because it’s their job to enforce the laws that have been duly enacted by elected authorities.

    This “oh they’re just doing their job, don’t blame them” kind of mentality just sickens me everytime I see it.

  16. Yep, matt. Its awfully close to “I was just following orders.”

  17. This is another clear demonstration that the police are not civil advocates and they are not interested in treating anyone with respect, they are an extension of state power. They regard any citizen as a potential perp and our civil rights as a complete waste of their time.

    I think there were plenty of opportunities for the police to point out lack of security or permits to the county officials and the issues could’ve been settled well before the first patron entered the rave. They met in their little GI Joe ™ command post, probably at the request of county commisioners, to plan a little tactical exercise at the expense of those kids. You know those SWAT teams need to feel like bad asses with all of the ninja masks and body armor and automatic weapons to make up for something missing between their legs or the fact that their mommas didn’t love them or some other psycho issue they are dealing with.

    Every time I hear about these abuses of power by police, I think of that photo of the Nazi soldier busting that door down in Poland or Russia. You know the one, the one that was used extensively by Republicans during Clinton’s Administration that had the words, “Jack Booted Thugs”, below it.

  18. Love how the harsh treatment of the pacifier sucking X drones is compared with nazi’s by Cliff to make a limp blo-back on the repug anti-blo-job wife-beaters.

    No perspective and the same old paranoid police state theme.

    Hey Matty, when you were a goucho, didja ever hear about how we ran off the sheriff’s in riot gear after they started swinging clubs Holloween 1979 on Del Playa. From then on it was police-state city in IV, so maybe that is why you have such a hard-on for law enforcement.

    The Utah ravers are victums of me and my party buddies because we won and beat the pigs back and they ran away like little girls and hit and run posters. True story, look it up in the nexus archives. Nowadays, the cops don’t let the kids win anymore, so blame me and my party bro’s, not the cops.

  19. Cliff:

    The problem is that I don’t think the cops are really the problem, nor the local politicos who put them in charge. The problem is your next door neighbor, the guy you work with, members of your family, and anyone else who casts a ballot in this country.

    Many libertarians think the battle is with government, it’s not. The real enemey is with the American people who get all reved up and gung ho over the use of force to punish those who threaten to pop their bubble-boy reality. The government and the cops are just symptoms of a larger disease, namely the statist desire for control. Nor from the politicians, but from the citizens themselves.

    As for “jack booted thugs,” well, that was when they were being used by the liberals at Waco and Ruby Ridge to kill God-fearin’, white, Christian gun owners. These days Dubbya needs them to fight the terrorism, drug use, and other forms of ant-tee-‘merican activity. To paraphrase the Ron Silver quote that got conservatives into such a tizzy in ’93: There “our” jack booted thugs now.

  20. “Many libertarians think the battle is with government, it’s not. The real enemey is with the American people who get all reved up and gung ho over the use of force to punish those who threaten to pop their bubble-boy reality.”

    True in a sense I guess Akira, but it’d be much more difficult (and expensive) for them to force anything on me without the “jack-booted thugs” ready and waiting to help them out.

  21. To be fair, you need to feel the rush that the cops do. Here’s a simulation done in shockwave for you to try and know what it’s like being a jackboot.

  22. It is eveident that when politicians, soldiers, policemen, etc. swear to defend the constitution, what they really mean is to defend the power structure and obey their orders without any real regard for the constitution.

  23. Hey Eddy, have you ever been in a crowd that instantly turned into a violent mob?? It’s a bit different in real life and in real time.

    You really need to expose your ass to an actual violent situation where you might actually die, then maybe you won’t sound like such a insulated putz.

    Real life is not barney

  24. “feel the rush that the cops do.”

    Oh yes! They were just acting under the influence of the “adrenaline rush” again. That seems to be the drug of choice for the cops. The release of adrenaline (suddenly) comes from either great fear or great anger, I am told. So are they scared shitless or are they about to have apoplexy because someone dared to defy or disobey?

    Cliff,
    I thought that “picture of the Nazi soldier that the Republicans used during the Clinton administration ” was a picture of our own Janet Reno nazis down there in Florida when they were after that little Cuban kid. Different picture?

  25. It is eveident that when politicians, soldiers, policemen, etc. swear to defend the constitution, what they really mean is to defend the power structure and obey their orders without any real regard for the constitution.

    So true Unca. If you can’t stand the heat, get the hell out of the kitchen.

    If anyone here has ever lived beneath the Mormon Curtain, you might remember when they decided to clean up Pioneer Park some decade ago. It was nothing more really than a PR stunt to show everyone they were getting tough on drug users. They did actually make the park accessible to families, but it did nothing to the drug trade overall. What amounted to a “safe” park actually ended up pushing the junkies and dealers out onto the streets to harrass the population and businesses within about a six block radius, making it harder to contain, and they could pat themselves on the back for being “tough on drugs”.

    Hell, it took then governor Leavitt many years to admit to any kind of a gang problem in Utah even though the rest of us had been dealing with it for many years before. If only they knew how much of a problem they had when I lived there, most of them would go crying back to their mothers for comfort!

  26. No JW it was an infamous photo of a Nazi soldier in one of the occupied countries kicking in a door to a house. The Republicans or NRA used the photo in an advertisement to counter Janet Reno’s jack booted thugs when they attacked Waco. At that time the Republicans were the ones who felt threatened so that’s who actually made the phrase well known. They had magazine advertisements with the photo of the Nazi and “Jack Booted Thugs” printed below it and then there was a rant about right to bear arms, etc.

  27. Sauk County WI had a Mass Gathering Ordinance very similar to Utah County’s, which was used to close the Weedstock Festival in May, 2000.

    My case eventually reached the State Court of Appeals, where the ordinance was found unconstitutional, because to comply with the requirement for portapotties, insurance, medical staff, ect, one first had to violate the ordinance, which forbade managing, organizing, acting as an entrepeneur for, etc. an event which did not yet have a permit. This “you must violate the ordinance to comply with it” paradox likewise infects the Utah ordinance.

    One cannot be penalized for violating an unconstitutional ordinance. Any searches based upon an entry stemming from the ordinance become illegal, so all the drug charges should eventually fall.

    If I were a Utah county taxpayer, I’d be pressing my ;ocal elected officials to offer settlements to the attendees now, rather than wait for massive legal bills to mount. In successful Civil Rights actions, plaintiffs get damages plus fees.

    Plaintiffs are advised to seek out top dollar representation, not so much because this means greater skill or diligence, but because the County will settle sooner rather than run up expensive billable hours.

  28. True in a sense I guess Akira, but it’d be much more difficult (and expensive) for them to force anything on me without the “jack-booted thugs” ready and waiting to help them out.

    Ah, but I would say that the jack-booted thugs exist only because the citizens demanded them in the first place. Ergo, the hulking police/army brute with the assault rifle is not liberty’s enemy. It’s the bluenosed soccer cunt who wants her little brat protected from pot, or the “tough-on-crime” right winger who idolizes barbaric states like Singapore as models of “law and order” who are America’s real fascists.

  29. So very true, Akira. All the evil in this world is caused by control freaks. Unfortunately, it seems like most of humanity are such. But really, why expect more from a bunch of hairless apes?

    It’s not easy to do, but worth it to try. When out in public, try to look at people as they really are: clothed apes. Watch their behavior, but try to ignore their words. Eventually, it just hits you like a ton of bricks. Apes! It actually makes me feel better; low expectations can reduce existential angst.

  30. have you ever been in a crowd that instantly turned into a violent mob?

    Only twice, the first was in a bar when the assembled cops and firemen decided to see who was “badder” by having a drunken brawl which caused rather extensive damage to the place, repaired out of pocket by the owner for obvious reasons. The second was after an officers funeral when the visiting cops went on a bender through the town in the middle of the afternoon harrassing the citizenry.

    The others were violent by design and I can honestly say that a gun has saved my ass more than once which is more than I can say for a cop. I’m thinking you liked tetka a bit too much.

  31. Eddy, I STILL think that chick is dead.

  32. Ended up at the beach one night when I was 16 where a huge spontaneous party was happening. There was dope, beer, hot chicks, a bonfire, lots of my friends, and all the makings for good fun. Then all of a sudden there was a surfer dude sticking a badge in my face and telling me to go home. I was startled to say the least.

    The Huntington Beach police effectively broke up this gathering that was larger than the Utah rave inside of 15 minutes without busting anybody for underage drinking, smoking pot, or being out after curfew-not to mention being at the public beach after it was closed. There was no show of force, not even uniformed cops. Just a bunch of undercover cops and plain clothes guys going around sending everyone home.

    There’s a lesson there.

  33. Funny, I was once in a pretty good riot in Huntington Beach…. Drove the cops away with beer- and rock-throwing, set some lifeguard stations on fire … then they came back with the full riot troops … good times.

  34. Utah seems to be on the cutting edge of over-the-top cops:

    RIVERDALE — It was a show of force worthy of hunting down a gang of the most-hardened criminals.

    Twelve officers, some carrying automatic weapons, from five Top of Utah police agencies, two dogs and a helicopter combed the woods near the river parkway in Riverdale Wednesday afternoon.

    Their quarry? Teenage shoplifters.

    “We were giving chase and decided to use the resources available,” said Riverdale Lt. Dave Hansen in explaining the heavy turnout of law enforcement.

    Four teenage boys shoplifted three controllers for a Sony PlayStation and some video games from Media Play shortly after noon Wednesday, Hansen said.

    http://www2.standard.net/standard/59578/

    Sad, really…

  35. That “Tetka” thing with the woman flopping through the bubbles is really disturbing.

    It would be a lot more fun if it was Barney.

  36. “Sad, really…”

    Stop hatin’ on dat freedom, cuz.

    Think o’ dem chillins!!!

  37. 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.

    Sounds great, until you find out how many things are against the law. And of course you also have to hope that they guy one street over, or on the west end of the street when you’re on the east end, who has the same house number you do, is following the same advice.

    “It’s a sticky wicket that illustrates some of the ambiguities inherent in a free society and the balance between freedom and responsibility.”

    Except the “balance” is beginning to resemble the 7th Cavalry v. Sioux Nation matchup.

  38. No one who wants to be a police officer should be allowed to be one. That job attracts a rigid, confrontation-loving personality type that when out of uniform would just be a run-of-the-mill asshole. I’m sorry but there’s no way around it. People who relish the opportunity to rough up some teenagers involved in consensual activity are a lower form of the species.
    I’ve always held that police and criminals (real ones, that violate the rights of others) are cut from the same cloth. They are co-workers. There is a symbiotic relationship at work here. And both groups have no business interacting with peaceful people, as this incident and countless others attest to.
    And so ends my rant.

  39. No one who wants to be a police officer should be allowed to be one.

    I’ve often felt the same about politicians.

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