Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dance before the police come

USA, Harrisburg: party-goers jailed

The city of Harrisburg [Pennsylvania] violated the rights of the out-of-state residents cited for violating a parks ordinance in connection with last week’s McCormick’s Island Camp-out With the DJs, a civil rights attorney said Tuesday... At least 127 out-of-state people were cited by police for illegal assembly under an ordinance that requires a permit for any gathering of more than 20 people in a city park to listen to music or make speeches. Police said they discovered the party during while searching for Christian Yanez, 27, a city man who drowned trying to swim to the party in the middle of the night. The planned 48-hour party was cut short after Yanez’ body was found in the Susquehanna River around 9 a.m. on the morning of Sept. 2. Later that day, police began stopping partygoers as they came ashore on shuttle boats provided event organizers. After being searched and having their identification checked, state residents were told they would receive a citation in the mail and released. Those from out of state were handcuffed and shackled, then transported to police headquarters, where they were held for up to 12 hours awaiting arraignment by night court Judge Robert Jennings III. Jennings set their fines at $1,051, the maximum allowed under the ordinance, and sent those unable to pay the fine, or that amount as bail, to Dauphin County Prison (Patriot News, 11 September 2007).

Though almost all the revellers were eventually released by Monday, they were ‘strip searched, deloused and put into uniforms’ on arrival at Dauphin County Prison, a notoriously harsh and overcrowded US prison (In the Mix, 9 September 2007)

USA, New York: DJ arrested in gay club bust

The staff at Mr. Black, a gay dance club located on Broadway and Bleecker, spent Labor Day weekend in lockdown... Seventeen Mr. Black employees and patrons were arrested during a 4 a.m. Saturday-morning raid conducted by a small army of police—25 to 40 strong, according to one eyewitness (including a few undercovers in drag)—from the Manhattan South narcotics squad. On the morning of the raid, after police pushed past Connie Girl, who works at the door, they reportedly asked, "Who's the DJ?" When Scissor Sisters DJ Sammy Jo identified himself, he was cuffed. His friend Jean Von Baden, a DJ visiting from Denmark and in town on holiday, was also arrested...

Sonny Shirley, an employee, says in an e-mail: "I asked the officers outside why we are being arrested and was finally told, 'You don't have any rights, shut the fuck up.'" Several employees say they saw the cops high-fiving each other as they were cuffing club patrons and employees. "The officers were giving high fives to each other in the bar while we were standing with our hands up as some of our people were being taken away," says Ladyfag. "It was just insensitive and unnecessary." Roze Ibraheem, the head of Mr. Black's security, says that police at the station referred to transgendered doorgirl Connie Girl as "it" and "that" and that "other derogatory anti-gay statements were made." Ibraheem says that at the club, police told the crowd of about 115 people: "Sorry, homos, you're gonna have to find somewhere else to go hang out," and that one employee was referred to as a "fairy" in passing.

During booking, many of the employees were strip-searched and made to do the "cough and squat"... Mr. Black employees don't deny that drugs can get inside the club; but they do deny that they aid or abet it, and they say they certainly don't sell it. "Bad things can happen anywhere. We're a nightclub; we're not having high tea. There are people who do drugs and get drunk," says Ladyfag. "But this was like we were criminals. You just got the feeling like this is what it must have been like: We're gay and we're being attacked." (Village Voice, 11 September 2007).

England, Great Yarmouth: police station clash

The conflict between police and party goers escalates in the East of England as the crackdown on free parties continues (see previous posts):

Eight people have been charged after a police station in Norfolk came under siege at the weekend. Five of the eight revellers, who are believed to be predominantly male, have been released on bail pending further enquiries while the other two are still at Great Yarmouth police station, where the event took place.They are all due to appear at the town's magistrates' court on September 6. More than 100 people hurled beer cans, bottles, bricks and blocks of wood at officers and tried to storm Great Yarmouth police station in the early hours of Sunday morning. The angry confrontations were sparked after sound equipment destined for a rave on the town's Harfrey's industrial estate was seized. So far 44 of the ravers' cars have been seized for evidence and nearly 20 people have been arrested (Norwich Evening News, 20 August 2007)

Police last night warned that illegal raves will not be tolerated during the final bank holiday of the summer. Norfolk and Suffolk police chiefs issued a joint statement in a bid to prevent a repeat of Sunday's bloody confrontation, when ravers clashed with riot officers on an industrial estate in the town... At the height of last week's violence, more than 100 officers responded in riot gear and used CS spray to force out some 300 revellers who had barricaded themselves in a factory yard at Harfrey's industrial estate after the rave had been disrupted (EDP, 24 August 2007).

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