Rave Organizer: Police Force Overzealous

Rave Organizer: Police Force Overzealous
Posted by FoM on May 23, 2000 at 09:15:06 PT
By Paul Peirce, Tribune-Review 
Source: Tribune-Review 
The owner of a Rostraver Township ice rink said young people attending an all-night "rave" at his Route 51 business were harassed by police and firefighters early Sunday, and the actions by public safety officials nearly caused a riot. "If anything would have happened they would have been at fault, and I think they really wanted a riot. 
Believe me when I say I understand security is necessary at a gathering of a lot of young people, but use some common sense and don't waste taxpayers' money like that," said James Murphy, owner of the Rostraver Ice Gardens. Eight adults ages 18 to 24 and four male juveniles were arrested between midnight Saturday and 8 a.m. Sunday at the concert attended by about 690 people, said township police Chief Greg Resetar. The arrests were mostly for possession of illegal drugs, including ecstasy, LSD and marijuana. Public concerns expressed after previous all-night dance parties called "raves" at the ice rink prompted Sunday's police presence, the chief said. And Resetar said he's not about to apologize for the show of force. "Nothing personal, but I hope they get the message, and that is that these rave concerts are not welcome here in Rostraver Township. We have a zero tolerance in this community toward illicit drug use, and it will be this way as long as they have them here," Resetar said. Raves originated in Manchester, England, in the late 1980s. Often publicized through other clubs and the Internet, parties can draw thousands of teens and young adults ranging from 17 to 30 years of age. Last weekend's concert was attended by less than one-fourth of the 3,300-plus who were drawn to raves held at the ice rink on Good Friday and the Saturday before Easter. Twenty-one arrests, mostly for drug violations, were made at those two concerts, police said. Murphy blamed the drop in attendance on media reports after previous concerts. The ice rink owner said he and the promoter of last weekend's rave, Total Xperience Production in Pittsburgh, lost money, but he did not disclose an amount. Murphy called the show of police force "overzealous and ridiculous." "I thought this is America," he said. Murphy questioned whether the fire department has ever conducted another inspection at 3 a.m. And he wondered why he wasn't approached in advance about potential fire hazard concerns rather than in the middle of the concert. "They used two fire trucks and pulled right in front for just an inspection. We had to turn up the lights and shut down the music with nearly 800 young people including our workers in here, and it really could have caused a panic," he said. "You'd think the Colombian drug cartel was here holding a party with 50 police mostly undercover and even the state attorney general's drug task force," he said. Police said the fire safety inspection was conducted as a follow-up to a complaint by the state attorney general's office to the state Department of Labor and Industry concerning the maintenance of exits, aisles, passageways and stairways leading to and from exits. Inspections were made Sunday to emergency lighting systems, and information was collected pertaining to the number of occupants permitted based on the floor area. Police said 11 violations were forwarded to state officials, but Murphy said he was not informed of the alleged safety offenses. Murphy, who has run the ice rink since 1993, corrected some minor violations at the scene when he was informed of them, police said. Murphy claimed other events that draw large numbers of young people are not subject to such scrutiny. "You get that many young people together I don't care where ... a high school football or basketball game and they search those events like these kids were harassed and they'll get a lot more arrests. They wouldn't dare do that during a high school football game," Murphy said. Murphy said there's never been a fight at any of the raves, and no weapons have been confiscated despite intense scrutiny. "Can you say that about any high school football game? Yes, there's been some drug use here, but that's just 1 percent of the kids and the previous arrests were made by security we had already contracted here, including township police. The other 99 percent of the kids are great ... just here to dance," he said. Resetar countered that promoters of the event are more interested in making money than the recurring drug activities. "They contracted us (police) and want a couple of officers there for security and to protect the money, but they apparently want us to turn our heads to the drug use, and our officers are not about to do that. Under our contract (with rave promoters), I was under the impression that the police, promoters and Ice Gardens were supposed to be working toward the same goal, but apparently we don't have the same goals," Resetar said. "Our goal is that we have zero tolerance toward illicit drugs, and their goal is the business end - to make money," he added. Despite the arrests, Murphy said a rave planned for June 2 remains scheduled. Juveniles arrested were two 17-year-old males from Salem, Ohio, for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia; a 17-year-old male from North Huntingdon Township for possession of ecstasy and drug paraphernalia; a 15-year-old male from Wexford for possession with intent to deliver ecstasy and possession of marijuana. Adults arrested were Kristi Lynn Welsh, 18, of Pittsburgh, possession of 59 ecstasy tablets and possession with intent to deliver; David Hackney, 22, of East Liverpool, Ohio, possession of ecstasy and possession with intent to deliver; Christopher Pastor, 19, of Pittsburgh, possession of LSD; Richard A. Howard, 20, of Beaver Falls, possession of ecstasy and possession with intent to deliver. Also arrested were Da Pol, 23, of Cabot, Butler County, delivery of ecstasy; John A. Fazio, 18, of Pittsburgh, possession of drug paraphernalia; Matthew H. Wexler, 20, of Wexford, possession of ecstasy; and Anthony Fortner, 24, of Pittsburgh, public drunkenness. The eight adults were committed to the Westmoreland County Prison on bonds ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 pending preliminary hearings. The 15-year-old from Wexford was the only youth committed to the county juvenile detention facility. Police said charges may be filed against a 19-year-old Tarentum man and a 22-year-old New Kensington man pending the results of laboratory tests on items confiscated, police said. Assisting township police were agents from the attorney general's office; the Westmoreland County Drug Task Force, which included officers from Ligonier, North Belle Vernon, North Huntingdon, Jeannette, Irwin, Delmont, Latrobe, Vandergrift, New Kensington, Washington Township and Lower Burrell; the county sheriff's department; and state police in Belle Vernon. Also assisting were units from Rescue 8 Emergency Medical Service, Rostraver No. 1 Fire Department, Rostraver Central Fire Department and Collinsburg Fire Department. Westmoreland News Published: May 23, 2000  2000 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.MapInc. News Articles On Raves: MapInc. Archives:
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on May 23, 2000 at 13:57:19 PT:
A matter of priorites
Hmmm. Let's see: if all the firefighters are at the rave, then what happens when a fire breaks out elsewhere? What will the liabilities be? How will they explain things to their various City Councils? That they were helping the police break up a peaceful, non-violent assemblage of kids who were dancing? weer they deputized?Since raves are advertised over the Net, don't you think that an enterprising burglar can visit his local library, get on the Web, learn the dates and times of raves, and proceed to ransack homes in the area while the police are busy harrassing teenagers?This only proves a point many have made here; the police like the DrugWar. They like it because it's so easy for them: the kids are all in one place, some have dope, so shake them all down. Like fish in the proverbial barrel. Why chase some hardened perp down the street and risk a heart attack? Why bother? The kids are right there, for the taking. And incidentally pee all over their rights of free assembly by pulling this kind of stunt. Let's 'em know where they stand!Meanwhile, murders, rapes, robberies, child molestation, white collar crimes, etc. are being committed while the police strive for a Drug Free America via busting a kid for having some joints in his possession.Yep, you gotta have priorities. The question is, who decides?
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: