Monday, April 4, 2011

UTAH 2005: Police brutality..

This sort of news doesn’t usually make it out to the general public; it stays in the crowd to which it pertains, people just don’t tend to hear about it unless they’re actively searching. If you’re an unconnected party, especially if you’re an academic, please spread the word.

On August 20th, a 90-strong SWAT team raided an electronic music event – a rave – that was legitimately taking place an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City in Utah. They brutally beat people, pointed guns at their foreheads, drew Tasers. They proudly announced having confiscated many drugs, their largest drug “bust” being the stash of stuff that contracted security had confiscated from partygoers. There was at least one helicopter. There were dogs, and at least one person is claimed to have been attacked by a police dog.

Drug Policy Alliance article: According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah County detectives wanted to “get their point across that such activity was not welcome in their area”… Since when are police officially sanctioned to do anything but uphold the law?

Another article by the Daily Herald in Provo:
Recently released documents show Utah County Sheriff Jim Tracy made plans to break up an August party in Spanish Fork Canyon days before he had officers raid the event.
The pages of documents, including police reports and memos from officers involved to co-workers and the sheriff’s office, indicated Tracy knew about the party as early as Aug. 18, two days before it happened, and contacted other law enforcement agencies for assistance in shutting down the event.
Several days after the raid, the Daily Herald sent a request to Utah County under the state Government Records Access Management Act for any documents relating to tactical planning received or sent by the Utah County Sheriff’s Office. Chris Yannelli, an attorney in the Utah County Attorney’s Office, told the newspaper at the time the documents didn’t exist.
But those documents do exist…
Utah County Departmental News release about the rave bust: “A 17 year old female from West Jordan, found by officers, had overdosed on ecstasy. She was treated and released to her parents.”
Another report stated that the young woman was “close to overdosing on Ecstasy”, whatever that means. Which Ecstasy? MDMA? GHB, sometimes referred to as “liquid ecstasy” and with markedly different effects? an unknown substance? Let’s assume MDMA, the most common. What are the symptoms of “overdosing” – hell, what are the effects considered to be within normal range for people taking a drug? What are the negative effects? Was she hospitalized? (No.) Her pulse was said to have been 176; hell, if she was on “Ecstasy” and saw SWAT all around her, I can see how she’d have an elevated heart rate. That last link above reports palpitations nowhere near as high as the report stated. We’re talking a difference of 85-100 beats per minute.

Salon has a great article on this, here. It’s free if you watch a short ad. They do present both sides of the story.

The ACLU got involved in a suit against the sherriff: a federal judge asked to prevent future raids on electronic music events. The ruling was in the sherriff’s favor.

Finally, here’s a two-minute video (.mov viewable with Quicktime, 15.76MB) shot by an attendee (I’ve put it on my own site just in case it ever gets taken off elsewhere). The police claim there was no brutality.