Thursday, June 15, 2006

 

Stories, Stories, Stories

We need as many first-hand accounts as possible from people regarding dubious police behavior. Please email any and all comments and stories about your experiences with law enforcement to wakaaction@hotmail.com. We will be posting some and using others to research behavior trends and tactics on the part of law enforcement. Also please contact us if you feel that your civil rights were violated as the ACLU is poised to take action soon.

Comments:
In attendance at the wakarusa music festival i felt as though the police were a little bit strong. I have attended many music festivals, and have never seen that many officers before. Granted it is a state park wakarusa is hosted on it is no excuse. Prior years the Police haven't been neer as bad and there were no reason for that many police. There is somewhat of an underground market that happens at festivals, not of illegal substances but of trinkets, handmade jewelry, polished crystals, even food items. These activities have never seen that wrong to me, i guess i was wrong. People being handcuffed and harassed for throwing water baloons also seemed a little bit extreme. I have never witnessed violence at a music festival, yet the police seemed as though at any minute there would be a riot. With all this being said, it is in my opinion that that many police officers will start to "look" for problems when there are no problems to be found.
 
I hope this helps someone somewhere, from preventing the travesty that was wakarusa
 
I'll second dave's comment. This was my third Wakarusa and 8th festival overall and I've never seen anyone getting out-of-hand at a festival before with the exception of some drunk frat guys at one of the first two Austin City Limit festivals.

Body slamming kids for possession as if they were wearing suicide vests or carrying weapons was completely unwarranted. The festival crowd is super peaceful and that type of behavior from law enforcement was ridiculous.

I do wonder what all that state law enforcement presence could have been used for instead of rousting festival-goers...perhaps addressing Kansas' status as the #5 state in the nation in terms of the number of meth labs seized and the #1 state in the U.S. in terms of per capita seizures of meth labs (data is a couple of years old, but this problem has probably become more pervasive):

Cain's statistics showed Kansas ranks fifth in the nation in number of Meth labs seized, but ranked first in seizures per capita. Eighth-graders in rural areas are 104 percent more likely to use Meth than those in urban areas, and the purity levels of Meth produced in the state have been found to be generally higher than that of imported meth.

The statistics also show a preponderance of Meth in economically challenged southeast Kansas, the home to the mythical town of Henrysville in "The Skinning Tree." While 23 of Kansas' 105 counties had no lab seizures from January through the end of August this year, Crawford and Cherokee counties combined for 59 separate lab busts - nearly double that of any other grouping of contiguous counties in the state.


That's a zero-sum situation: Every Kansas law enforcement person who spent the weekend out at Clinton Lake State Park hassling festival-goers was one less that wasn't out addressing Kansas' critical meth problem last weekend; every law enforcement person at the festival also cost money that could have been put toward fighting the meth problem in Kansas.
 
Walking into the venue Saturday night the security/law enforcement checked my armband and searched my bag- which was fine. My companion wasn't so lucky. The men at the gate were wearing different t-shirts indicating to me that they represented two different agencies- although I can't be sure which. The first guy, wearing a yellow security shirt, turned to the other guy, who had a badge on his dark colored t-shirt, and said, "Search him," referring to my friend who was just patted down. The second beast of a man stuck his hands in my friends pockets and grasped a baggie containing a small amount of suspicious vegetation. It happened so fast that my startled friend reached down and grabbed the hand that was digging through his pocket, to which the man barked, "Touch me again and I'll break your neck." He took the stash and allowed him in. Protect and serve - my ass. The two guys in line behind us saw what occurred and when the police tried to search them, they resisted and were tackled to the ground. We watched from the other side of the fence as the two guys were surrounded and subdued. We returned shortly after with another friend and saw them sitting on the ground with their hands behind their backs and one had an ice pack. I am assuming the police injured and then arrested the two men. Whoever they are, I hope they're OK and will come forward to raise awareness of the injustice that occurs when local government officials fail to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.
 
To start things off, I love Wakarusa ive been there every year. I look forward to it all year. It started off this year when a police officer told my friend that his hat with a pot leaf on it was considered paraphernalia, and that he needed to get rid of it. It was an ominous start to the weekend. At night I was so scared of seeing their off road vehicles when they passed I covered my eyes because of the bright lights and I guess that was an admission of guilt of something so the rest of the time I feared the night just a bit. I would have to say though that Saturday was the most horrifying of all, you see my best friend molly was walking by the main gates and saw a yellow shirt security officer pull a knife on this girl to remove her bracelet, now any person who has a knife pulled out on them would somewhat freak out or try to remove them selves from the situation but at that point two police officers tackled her. And after that her boyfriend doing as anyone should when a woman is being beaten he pushed them off of her, after that five or six police officers tacked and beat them both. I have to say that if God him self had pulled a knife on my sister I would have punched him in the face it’s what upstanding people do. Either way Molly wasn’t nearly right for a day or two after that. It was one of the most disgusting things I have ever witnessed. Also I was conversing with some people on the beach, “which also was one of the saving graces of the weekend” who had told me that he had been busted, carted away to a barn interrogated for ten hours then was throne back into the festival told to act like nothing had happened.
Also I had a friend who entered on Friday on a day pass, so on Saturday when his pass was up he tried to leave walking out with only a brown paper sack with a pair of pants, a shirt or two, cell phone charger, and cigarettes. The yellow shirt security guy then told him that he couldn’t take his bag with him. Confused it being his first festival, he left his bag with the security guard to go and find some information returning about an hour later to have the security acting like he had never seen him before and laugh in his face.
Now to be fair I LOVE WAKARUSA! Every year ive had the time of my life partying in Kansas. The music line up is always phenomenal, stupendous even. And the people there so much fun, I found my self not being able to sleep much just because of to many interesting conversations to jump into. I mean I didn’t even lock my car all weekend. I felt completely safe doing so. My best friend was the guy camped next to me at Wakarusa the 2nd. To put all of my Wakarusa memories down would take way to long, also no one would have the time or energy to read it. We were so close it could have been perfect this year but it all just fell painfully short.
Oh yea and dose anybody remember how it was at the 2nd Wakarusa? I mean you had to beat people off with a stick just so that you wouldn’t OD. And the cops did barley anything, and then to turn it in to a beat down festival? I’m sure that we all would have obliged to meat the man in the middle no one shows up to start fights with the police I mean they are the ones with the guns. The police weren’t there to protect anybody if I was on the verge of death and I had the choice of either asking the police for help or just a group of random strangers I would have to say I would feel safer with the strangers every time, that’s just a testament to the kind of people who make Wakarusa what it is. I hope that we can fulfill the potential of what Wakarusa could be next year, even though that may be something of a pipe dream at this point, “ pun intended”.
Be safe and kind.
Peace n love Chris Coleman. The guy down on the beach.
 
everything was fucked up this year besides the music...i heard countless stories from almost everyone i had met about some form of abuse or harrassment by the law enforcement agents. i hope things are different next year
 
I missed Wakarusa and it sounds like I was lucky. My friends from Colorado there had tents searched, flipped upside down and all kinds of shit just for sitting in a circle. Over the years I've seen this happen to several festivals, the police just get crazier and crazier. It was the Detroit rave scene here in the midwest in the 90's then the police just flipped out. Then Phish in 99-2000, the police just flipped out, DEA and FBI and all that. The current festival scene is dead. There are just too many bad people (cops, narcs) who know the score now. The only way to get things back is to do it ourselves. Maybe Mexico, maybe Canada. Can you all imagine a big Mexican festival? There would be pharmacies set up and cops selling herb and shit. It would be beautiful.
 
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