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Harshin' My Mellow
September 16, 2006 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Drugs at music festivals are nothing new. Sometimes this results in comically bad journalism and sometimes the results are not so funny. At the Wakarusa Music Festival this past year police used new, creepy tools pursue drug dealers on the Festival grounds in an attempt to seperate the drugs from the music.
posted by aburd (28 comments total)

 
A quarter of a million to stop a bunch of kids having a good time. What a waste. You would think a blind eye would be turned, after all... it's a weekend and at the end of it the Government has a bunch of happy people ready to go back to their real worlds.
posted by twistedonion at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2006


You would think a blind eye would be turned, after all... it's a weekend and at the end of it the Government has a bunch of happy people crooks ready to go back to their real worlds.

“It’s hopefully a win-win for everybody except the crooks,” said Mike McRory... (from the police used new, creepy tools link.
posted by carsonb at 12:32 PM on September 16, 2006


I think the equipment was loaned as a demo, so I don't think anyone really spent $250K. But still, creepy...
posted by cosmonaught at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2006


Police seized more than $11,000 in suspected drug money,

So they used a quarter million dollar system to capture $11k? No wonder we are losing the war on drugs.

“I struggled with this a little bit, but I felt like we were doing it for the right reasons. If it was meant to be Big Brother and spying on people, I wouldn’t have done it.”


[blinks] Buddy, you were Big Brother. You were spying on people. Just because you thought it might be for the right reason doens't make what you did any more appropriate.

I forget the exact quote, so I'll paraphrase "The greatest evils in the world were not perpetrated by madmen, but by regular people who believed they were just doing their job"
posted by quin at 1:06 PM on September 16, 2006


Wow, this is terrible. Another hit for live music.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:14 PM on September 16, 2006


“This is a crowd that has a high expectation of privacy and freedom, and I respect that, within limits,” Schecher said. “I struggled with this a little bit, but I felt like we were doing it for the right reasons. If it was meant to be Big Brother and spying on people, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Wow what quin said. Just because you *say* you're not being big brother does not actually mean you're not. Obviously, you were.
posted by delmoi at 1:17 PM on September 16, 2006


I don't do drugs, but there's no way I would consider going to a music festival where this sort of surveillance was carried out. It's shameful. Anybody with half a brain figured out long ago that the War on Drugs is neither.
posted by facetious at 1:20 PM on September 16, 2006


On June 16, 2006, a tour bus carrying Ricky Skaggs to perform at Bonnaroo struck and killed a man[Rumored to have been under the influence of a hallucinogen such as LSD] wearing a Bonnaroo wristband who jumped onto Interstate 24.
-Wikipedia

Wow, what're the odds?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:31 PM on September 16, 2006




My friend who attended Burning Man this said they were doing something similar there, handing out $500 tickets to pot smokers.
posted by doctor_negative at 1:57 PM on September 16, 2006


Drugs are bad, m'kay? The government knows what's best for you, m'kay? You can't be trusted with your own life, m'kay?

Damn. The US is so fubar.
posted by oncogenesis at 2:05 PM on September 16, 2006


yeah, wow, that second link would be comical if it didn't hurt my brain. =)
posted by dozo at 2:27 PM on September 16, 2006


yeah, wow, that second link would be comical if it didn't hurt my brain. =)

I love the second sentence of the "review":

All Good really was pretty much all good this year, much more all good than last year..
posted by aburd at 2:31 PM on September 16, 2006


“It’s hopefully a win-win for everybody except the crooks,” said Mike McRory, vice president of business development for NS Microwave Inc.

... and the drug dealers. I don't see how they win in this deal. Seems the only ones to see an overall benefit from this deal were law enforcement and NS Microwave Inc., with the possible exception of law enforcement.
posted by sfenders at 2:37 PM on September 16, 2006


How about large groups of festival goers asking the organizers if they have agreed to plant hidden videocameras on site and sign an affidavit saying no. If they lie, sue them - I believe that hidden vidocameras unless marked by a warrant aren't the subject of gag rules etc. If they say yes, don't go AND PUBLICIZE IT ("phish festival organizer in collusion with narcs"). The organizers don't have to agree to surveil with the cops: force them to take a warrant out.

Use that good 'ol capitalist tool: choice. In order to choose, people need to know whether they are voluntarily giving up their privacy rights on private land.
posted by lalochezia at 2:50 PM on September 16, 2006


My friend who attended Burning Man this said they were doing something similar there, handing out $500 tickets to pot smokers.

It's been that way for at least a few years now. Heavy police presence, and this year's undercover cops were actually much more realistic (i.e. not obviously cops) than in year's past. Both a bit scary and depressing. The only "art cars" you'll see driving around at dawn are police SUVs. Ick. I've also heard that the feds do indeed use high-tech gear like night-vision utilities, etc., but nothing about hidden cameras.

I saw a guy get arrested selling/giving ecstacy to an undercover cop couple 50 ft from my friend's art piece. I've also seen tickets for marijuana smoking on the playa, but I thought they were more like $50 (and they confiscate your weed, regardless of prescription).

The weird thing is that I would think drug use and resultant injury is actually *less* at these festivals than in urban environments in general, but there's more activity out in the open and thus more easily busted. My guess there is purely based on anecdotal experience, but that's the weird thing for me. It does seem like a self-serving shakedown by law agencies. Perhaps that's obvious now.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:11 PM on September 16, 2006


I just thought of the perfect solution. Get a hold of the tapes, find any angles that provide a view of the band that playing, edit it together, and release it as a bootleg.

Then, let the RIAA know where the footage came from.

Hilarity ensues.
posted by quin at 4:00 PM on September 16, 2006 [2 favorites]


Wow, you can get busted for pot at Burning Man? That's really shitty.

The War on Drugs Pot is ridiculous.
posted by ninjew at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2006


quin wins.

If he were to pull it off, he might well win for all eternity. I'd pay cash money to see RIAA and the DEA duke it out to the death.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2006


quin : "So they used a quarter million dollar system to capture $11k? No wonder we are losing the war on drugs. "

Well, they used a quarter of a million dollar system that cost them nothing: "The equipment was courtesy of a California company that agreed to give a free demonstration of its wares for marketing purposes."
posted by Bugbread at 7:30 PM on September 16, 2006


The only "art cars" you'll see driving around at dawn are police SUVs.

Lies! I was on an art car at dawn one morning this year, and there were plenty out at the trash fence with us.

Of course, that might be why you didn't see them...
posted by flaterik at 8:56 PM on September 16, 2006


"Wow, you can get busted for pot at Burning Man? That's really shitty"

It's been that way for years. It's called "Nevada State Law." Although Nevada has legislation hitting the ballot that would allow a certain amount of pot. Perhaps that law will change soon.

Just because it's within Burning Man doesn't make it exempt from the state law. The Burning Man website is very very clear about the consequences. Like the "war on drugs" or not, it's a reality. Maybe when more pro-pot politicians are voted into office, things will change. Who knows.
posted by drstein at 9:45 PM on September 16, 2006


Allied Defense Group bringing the war back home
posted by hortense at 9:57 PM on September 16, 2006


The best place to have one of these Festivals is an Indian Reservation. When Phish played the Big Cypress indian reservation in Florida the drug use was open and unchecked. I woke up one morning to a girl with a tray full of small cups filled with liquid LSD shouting "I've got your ice cold liquid acid here! Who wants to wake up and get spun in the sun! Ice cold liquid acid right here folks!" It was like a nerf-covered riot... safe but chaotic.

The funny thing is contrasting Nevada (America's hedonsitic hotspot) and Tennessee (Bonnarroo)/Florida (Big Cypress). The bible belt states appear willing to sell out their teetotaler leanings while Nevada is sticking to their stretched but still existant guns.
posted by aburd at 10:46 PM on September 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's just occurred to me that if you reparse "war on drugs" a little, it explains present policy on all kinds of issues just perfectly.

This is your war.


This is your war on drugs.
posted by flabdablet at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2006


This is infuriating.

I mean, god forbid people take drugs in a relaxed, open atmosphere, amongst people who are likely to understand what they're going through.

Man.... Anything to stop people from having a harmless, good time.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:31 AM on September 17, 2006


As a local resident this makes me feel incredibly ashamed. I moved here from Chicago 2 years ago and sometimes I really wonder what I'm doing here. The prevailing reaction among Kansas has been "well if you're not breaking the law you don't have to worry...and if you are breaking the law the hell with you."

I haven't gone to Waka since the first year- I've seen the increased law enforcement presence every year and it just makes me sick. I've written to the Governor (a Democrat) and Highway Patrol protesting their questionable actions and received veiled threats in response. At the end of the day Kansas is just as ignorant as you may think. There are pockets of tolerance (such as Lawrence where the festival is held) but at the end of the day this was in a state park and was subject to state law enforcement. There were also questionable drug search checkpoints along the route to the festival. The ACLU wanted to take action but couldn't find anyone that would have standing and that was willing to participate. Pretty sad.
posted by donknotts at 2:41 PM on September 17, 2006




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