Utah Police Misconduct and Police Abuse

[ Taken from PoliceCrimes.com ]

About 90 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies broke up what they said was a rave party on public and private property in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon, an hour outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday.

According to the county, the sheriff's office had been investigating similar parties since the beginning of the season. In a press release from the Sheriff's office in Utah County, the department claims that previous allegations of sexual abuse while attending other raves, as well as various firearm and theft violations, were reason for the investigation. The release continues to state that the proper permit was not obtained before the party started.

Armed with assault rifles and tear gas, the police used dogs to sweep the crowd for narcotics. At least one helicopter was used in the operation. The scale of the police response was apparently due to the ineffectiveness of a smaller force used in the previous "Sequence Five" rave. Prior to dispersing the partiers, several police informants had reportedly infiltrated the rave and observed widespread illegal activities.

The promoter says the party took place on private property, named Child's Ranch, with express permission from the owner. The property owner has apparently had at least one previous run-in with police over a similar event. Utah County requires a permit, bond and county commission approval for all gatherings with more than 250 people present. According to a DJ at the event, "they presold 700 tickets and they expected up to 3,000 people total". He added that by the time police arrived "the crowd was about 1500 people thick".

The police have publicly stated that these permits were not obtained, but the promoters claim otherwise. Officials also claim that the party had spilled over onto public land.

Police reported in local press that more than 60 arrests were made for weapons offenses, driving under the influence, underage drinking, drug possession and distribution, resisting arrest, assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct. Officers claim to have found cocaine, ecstasy, marijuana, mushrooms, alcohol and large amounts of drug paraphernalia. Some of the drugs may include those confiscated from partiers by security guards.

Amateur video from the scene shows a number of SWAT police (estimates are at 90) screaming orders at the DJs to "Shut it down now!" and yelling at others to "get out now, or I'll kick your ass in jail". Armed police are also seen tackling a number of rave-goers, and it is unclear from the video footage whether these attendees attempted to attack the police. Due to the low resolution, automatic lighting adjustment, and low audio quality, the video appears to have been taken with a cellular phone.

A first hand account from a DJ booked to play at the party stated that while police were arresting a man accused of narcotic possession, the suspect was beaten to the ground and continually "kicked in the ribs" by 4 armed "soldiers" dressed in camouflage. According to the account, nobody resisted the policemen but tear gas was still used as partiers were already dispersing quietly. The DJ also states that police were attempting to confiscate video equipment, but an amateur video has still surfaced on the internet (see sources below).

Several partygoers felt they should have the right to attend a rave where drugs are being used, so long as they don't personally use them:

"While it may be true that some individuals choose to take drugs at said events like this, myself as well as many others choose to go for the music. Just like anything, you have bad apples, but you shouldn't cut down the tree." "Raves are not the only musical gatherings where drugs are used and distributed."

Other partygoers felt that the use of force in the shutdown was excessive - numerous eyewitness accounts by concertgoers describe people being beaten, tasered, or attacked with dogs. One account from an attendee, identified as "Colby", states:

"I saw at least two people being beaten on the ground while barking, snarling dogs are held just a few feet from them. Weapons were being pointed at unarmed, peaceful civilians. A friend of mine was forced at gunpoint to put his hands on his head and turn around, because he asked if he could get his things from the tent."

Utah County sheriff's Sergeant Darren Gilbert said a 17-year-old girl was found overdosed on ecstasy, and was treated and released to her parents. Multiple lawsuits are being threatened against the city. According to an advertisement for the event, an attorney was present at the party. The local sheriff is scheduled to appear on Utah TV following a number of complaints being sent to TV stations and the police.