Should Concert Promoters Go to Jail if Audience Members Do Drugs?


Via Jeff A. Taylor's Tumblr comes news that Jimmy Tebeau, the founder of a Missouri-based rock festival known as "Schwagstock," is starting a 30-month sentence in the slammer. His crime? Running concerts at which drug use and sales was prevalent.

"We didn't view this as a music-festival prosecution," says Richard Callahan, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. "We viewed it as somebody who was using a festival site to promote illegal drug sales and profit off of that. We thought there was a difference between a music festival with incidental drug use and a drug festival with incidental music. We believe in this case it was the latter rather than the former."…

Tebeau says he paid more than $200,000 in tax revenue to Shannon County over the years but that his relationship with local law enforcement was always adversarial. He claims the Shannon County sheriff told him he couldn't spare officers to patrol Schwagstock, and he says the state highway patrol rebuffed his request for assistance, as well, opting instead to set up roadside checkpoints and hassle drivers going to and from Camp Zoe.

Tebeau, who plays in a Grateful Dead cover band, is precisely the sort of guy who is enough on the margins that he was a likely target. A Grateful Dead cover band! Ha ha, what was that dirty stinking hippie thinking! Of course, he's going to be arrested!

In truth, his prosecution under the so-called Crack House Statute and eventual plea bargain, is an appalling waste of time, money, and most of all, human life.

Read the whole thing, especially the ways in which promoters of larger and more-drugged-out festivals such as Bonnaroo manage to keep things cool with the cops.

Past Reason coverage of this case.

Read Jeff Taylor's massive Reason archive and follow him on the Twitter.

And watch Ravers vs. The Man, a Reason TV doc about California's stupid reactions to a thriving youth-music scene.