Last night, I was booked to play an event about an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. The hype behind this show was huge, they presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total. The promoters did an amazing job with the show.. they even made slipmats with the flyers on them to promote in local shops.
So, we got to the show around 11:15 or so and it was really cool. It was all outdoors, in a valley surrounded by huge mountains. They had an amazing light show flashing on to a mountain behind the site, the sound was booming, the crowd was about 1500 people thick and everything just seemed too good to be true really. Well...
At about 11:30 or so, I was standing behind the stage talking with someone when I noticed a helicopter pulling over one of the mountain tops. I jokingly said "Oh look, here comes big brother" to the person I was with. I wasn't far off.
The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camoflauge walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on . A few "troops" rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone "get the **** out of here or go to jail". This is where it got really sticky.
No one resisted. That's for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, A can of ****ing TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing... bad scene.
Now, this is all I saw with my own eyes, but I heard plenty of other accounts of the night. Now this isnt gossip I heard from some candy raver, these are instances cited straight out of the promoters mouth..
- One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.
- The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. priceless footage. That's not all though. Out of 1,500 people, there's sure to be more footage.
- The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said "here, I have the permit." The police then said, "no you don't" and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said "get the **** out of here right now."
Now.. let's get the facts straight here.
This event was 100% legal. They had every permit the city told them they needed. They had a 2 MILLION DOLLAR insurance policy for the event. They had liscenced security guards at the gates confiscating any alcohol or drugs found upon entry (yes, they searched every car on the way in). Oh, I suppose I should mention that they arrested all the security guards for possession.
Oh another interesting fact.. the police did not have a warrant. The owner of the land already has a lawsuit against the city for something similar. A few months ago, she rented her land for a party and the police raided that as well. And catch this, the police forced her to LEAVE HER OWN PERSONAL PROPERTY. That's right. They didnt arrest her, but made her leave her own property!!!
Don't get it twisted, this is all going down in probably THE most conservative state in the USA. And this is scary.. a gross violation of our civil liberties. The police wanted this party shut down, so they made it happen. Even though everything about this event was legal. The promoters spent over $ 20,000 on this show and did everything they had to to make it legit, only to have it taken away from them by a group of radical neo-con's with an agenda.
This was one of the scariest things I have ever witnessed in person. I can't even begin to describe how surreal it was. Helicopters, assault rifles, tear gas, camoflauge-wearing soldiers.... why? Was that really necessary?
This needs to be big news across the USofA. At least in our music scene (edm as a whole)... this could happen to any of us at any time. When we're losing the right to gather peacefully, we're also letting the police set a standard of what we can get away with. And I think that's BULL****!
The system ****ed up last night... They broke up a party that was 100% legal and they physically hurt a lot of people there at the same time. The promoters already have 6 lawsuits ready to file with their lawyers and the ACLU is already involved.
I'm sure some pictures (and hopefully some video) will surface soon. I'll make sure to post them up here on 404, so you can see the Police State of America at work.
p.s. - there are more stories of police brutality that i'll post up later. gotta hit the airport soon. can't wait to get the **** out of this **** hole state.