HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Rave Bust Creates Buzz Online, Across Nation
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Dec 2002
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Tom Kertscher


Fans Complain Party-goers Were Ticketed For Merely Attending Event

Racine - Racine has become the talk of the Internet among young people 
around the country who enjoy going to rave parties.

Through e-mail, Web sites and Internet newsgroups, rave-goers have been 
sharing their outrage over the $968 citations issued to 441 people at a 
Nov. 2 rave party in Racine. And many are also following news stories as 
most of the people cited begin to fight their cases in court.

"When there's word of something like this, it spreads pretty quick," 
Madison, Ill., rave promoter Jeff Lofink said in an interview last week. 
He'd seen postings about the Racine rave bust on, and in various Internet newsgroups.

"Usually, you have to be doing something wrong to get a ticket," Lofink 
said, explaining why some people are upset.

His impression of Racine?

A place "where the police don't follow the laws too much, where they feel 
they can overstep their bounds."

The Police Department certainly has come under fire, albeit mostly from 
teenagers and young adults who attend rave parties. The criticism, some 
officials say, may be unfair.

When the Sheriff's Department raided a rave in Yorkville, it did what many 
law enforcement agencies have done: break up the party and write citations 
to the party organizers. But that rave was six or seven years ago, Sheriff 
William McReynolds said, before local authorities had any indication that 
rave parties were virtually synonymous with the illegal use of drugs, 
usually Ecstasy.

"I think the Police Department was looking at a whole different situation," 
the sheriff said.

Journal Sentinel reporters who attended a rave in April at the Alliant 
Energy Center of Madison found that most of the young people interviewed 
said they had used the drug, and some said they bought it there. A recent 
report from the U.S. Department of Justice indicated that emergency room 
personnel had seen a 500% increase in the number of patients on the drug in 
the six years ending in 1999.

But rave fans think it was outrageous that merely attending the Racine 
party resulted in getting a citation for being an "inmate of a disorderly 
house/controlled substances."

Pointing out that only three people at the party were arrested on drug 
charges, they said in interviews that they're spreading word about the 
Racine bust, in part, to be prepared if the tactic is used elsewhere.

"There's just this misconception that we're the only ones doing (drugs)," 
said Mike Phillips, 26, of suburban Washington, D.C. "I go because I like 
the music. You can't punish the people that are going for the right reasons 
because of the ones that are going (for drugs)."

Phillips and others who discuss the Racine bust and other rave issues over 
the Internet said they had never heard of police writing citations to 
party-goers. They said Racine police probably cracked down hard so that no 
raves would be held in the city in the future - and that the technique 
probably was effective.

City officials have acknowledged that they want to deter future parties, 
even as the city attorney's office has made plea bargains. Initially, those 
cited who pleaded no contest to the "inmate/controlled substances" citation 
were fined only $100. Then last week, the city attorney's office offered 
those who pleaded no contest the lower fine and a citation for disorderly 
conduct, with no reference to controlled substances.

But the city still faces the potentially costly prospect of having to hire 
a special prosecutor and pay police overtime for hundreds of trials. So 
far, most of the party goers have pleaded not guilty.

A final round of initial court appearances is set for Monday.

Police in Racine were suckered by the "corporate sensational media," which 
make it seem that every rave is rife with illegal drug use, said Jon 
Gibson, 23, of Vancouver, Wash. The crackdown will only create more danger, 
he said, because rather than being held in bars, raves will go back to 
being held underground.

That would be a shame, said Dave Meeker of Chicago, director of The 
Selekta, an organization that supports electronic music deejays, promoters 
and producers. As rave parties have become more public, they have increased 
security and searches at the door, he said.

"I don't know how many times I've seen drug dealers pushed out the door and 
their drugs flushed down the toilet" without police needing to intervene, 
Meeker said.

Others who have gotten involved in the Racine bust aren't fighting for the 
right to party, necessarily, but to preserve civil liberties.

"The Bill of Rights is threatened, so wherever it occurs it's a threat 
nationally," said Racine attorney Erik Guenther, who is representing some 
of the people cited.

Amy Tyler, host of a daily talk show on KTBB-AM near Houston, said she had 
discussed the Racine case several times because she and her listeners view 
the raid as a misuse of police power.

"Government has just gotten away with too much for too long, and it's time 
we started fighting back," Tyler said.

The raid also has caught the attention of the Milwaukee-based American 
Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, which has been helping people with the 
court process, and the ACLU's National Project on Drug Policy.

Graham Boyd, the project director in Connecticut, said the ACLU may become 
formally involved because police are "essentially going after a kind of 
music. It's a culture that's under assault."

Law enforcement didn't always overreact to new music forms linked to drugs, 
Boyd contended, saying jazz flourished in the 1920s even though many of its 
fans favored marijuana.

"If you had that same kind of law enforcement as they're using today, we 
may have never heard of Louie Armstrong," he said.
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