Saturday August 20, 2005

The Utah County Sheriff's Office used 90 law enforcement personnel to shut down an outdoors electronic music concert attended by 300 people. The raid was conducted using dogs, a helicopter, and S.W.A.T. teams armed with fully automatic weapons. Party attendees were videotaped being pinned to the ground, restrained, and kicked during the course of 60 arrests for non-violent crimes (e.g. underage drinking, possession of drugs.)

Update: It appears that the event may not have required a Utah mass gathering permit. The lack of such a permit was the justification for the bust by the Utah County Sheriff's Office.

video footage >> Click here
for video footage

of the bust [3.6 MB mpg].

Alternate source
here. [12 MB]
WARNING: This video footage is graphic and disturbing.
>> Sheriff's Report (pdf) "The Sheriff's Office will investigate and look into and find an illegal mass gathering going on, we will take the appropriate action to stop the party at that time," Gilbert said.

>> Firsthand Account (blog)

>> More Stories (message board)

"One of the promoters friends ... was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. Three [law enforcement officers?] proceeded to kick her in the stomach."

>> Salt Lake Tribune Story

>> Utah Daily Herald Editorial
      (And reader comments)

>> Daily Herald Editorial #2
      (re: Permit Required or not?)

"They did nothing more than ensure this was a venue for illegal drug use and consumption," [the sheriff] said. Among those arrested for drug possession were several security guards hired by Fullmer to patrol the event. Guards at security check points confiscated alcohol and drugs as ravers filed into the party.

"But young people know what raves are really about. They are loud, high-energy, all-night dance parties often fueled by drugs. Under-age drinking is common. The atmosphere of unrestraint fosters sexual assaults, drug overdoses, car burglaries, driving under the influence and other problems."

Folks in Utah Want to Hear from You!
Gov. John Huntsman, Jr. (R) 801-538-1000

Sen. Robert F. Bennett (R) Fax: 202-228-1168

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R) Fax: 202-224-6331

Rep. Rob Bishop (R-1) Fax: 202-225-5857

Rep. Jim Matheson (D-2) Fax: 202-225-5638

Rep. Chris Cannon (R-3) Fax: 202-225-5629


Utah County Sheriff
Sgt. Dennis Harris
Public Relations

To Whom it May Concern at the Utah County Sheriff's Office:

This evening I watched a video on the Internet of what I am told are 90 law enforcement officials, including armed S.W.A.T. teams, busting an outdoors dancing event where the UCSO suspected illegal activities were taking place.

In the video, I see armed camouflaged personnel throwing kids to the ground and forcibly detaining them. Kicking them. I read from first-hand accounts that dogs attacked the kids.

I have no doubt that some of these kids were under the influence of drugs. Alcohol and drugs are used at many well-attended music and dancing events, whether these are put on by people who like electronic music or by the Rolling Stones.

What is the Sheriff's office trying to accomplish with a large-scale and heavy-handed commando operation such as this weekend's? I have no doubt that a great number of the attendees felt terrorized by your operation. Was this action somehow of more help than it was harmful?

In the past dozen years, I have attended at least a dozen raves that have been busted by police officers in jurisdictions such as Oakland, San Francisco, and Chicago. In all these cases, it was sufficient for the local precinct to send in two or three officers who ask for the music to be turned off and tell everyone to go home. If anyone is caught using drugs, they get busted. End of story.

What does your office think it accomplishes by sending in a battalion of armed personnel to shut down a dance party as if it is a hotbed of armed and dangerous terrorists?

For the most part, these are CHILDREN and YOUNG ADULTS who have come together outdoors to DANCE.

- Canton Becker
Santa Fe, New Mexico

This page by Canton Becker