Civil Liberties

Police Posing as Punks Bust Rockers: Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do?!


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Boston cops are so eager to bust DIY indie-rock shows that they won't simply wait to respond to noise complaints that might arise. Instead they're going online posing as punk rockers to bust bands before they perform. It's part of a citywide effort to crack down on basement and warehouse shows spurred by a recently passed nuisance control ordinance.

Slate's Luke O'Neil sets the stage:

Almost everyone in the DIY scene has had an experience with phony police emails, direct messages on Twitter, and interactions on social media.  For some it's become just another part of the promotion business—a game of spot-the-narc in which the loser gets his show shut down. According to one local musician who asked not to be named, the day before a show this past weekend, police showed up at a house in the Allston neighborhood, home of many of these house shows, claiming that they already knew the bands scheduled to play. The cops told the residents of the house that they found out about the show through email, and they bragged about their phony Facebook accounts.

Officers take to social media to create hilariously inept  punk  personas:

This week the St. Louis band Spelling Bee posted a screencap of emails from an account that they believe was used by the police in a sting before their recent Boston show. It reads like an amazing parody of what you might imagine a cop trying to pose as a young punk would look like.

"Boston Punk Zombie," reads the crudely-scrawled avatar of a green-mohawked punk with the address That name is apparently a generic-brand knockoff of an infamous Boston hardcore gang. Cred achieved. "What's the point" reads the tagline under the profile pic.

"Too bad you were not here this weekend," "Joe Sly" wrote. "Patty's day is a mad house I am still pissing green beer.  The cops do break balls something wicked here. What's the address for SaturdayNight, love DIY concerts."

Don't cops have better things to do? Well, yes, especially in a city with more pressing problems, like, say, unsolved murders. The Boston Globe calls the "painfully slow rate at which most killings are solved" one of Beantown's most "intractable problems."

So instead of playing pretend online, maybe cops could spend more time in the real world catching real criminals.

Just under 2 minutes.

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"Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do?" is written and directed by Ted Balaker (@tedbalaker). Producer is Matt Edwards. Opening motion graphics by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Paul Detrick, Alex Manning, and Sharif Matar. Music by and "The Contessa" is by Maurice and the Beejays (Magnatune Records).

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