Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Racine is asked to drop tickets given at party - MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin has requested that the City of Racine drop all tickets issued to patrons of a party Nov. 2 where police found drugs on three people, saying the tickets violate the First Amendment.

The party, which police deemed a rave, was held at Tradewinds Banquet Hall, 1518 Washington Ave. Police raided the building while acting on a tip. Three people were arrested for selling or possessing illegal drugs, and 445 people were ticketed for being the patron of "a disorderly house with controlled substances," police said.

In addition to claiming that the tickets violate the First Amendment, the ACLU, in a letter to Racine City Attorney Daniel P. Wright, said the tickets issued to those without drugs "violates the due process clause."

The tickets issued to party-goers carry a forfeiture of almost $1,000.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

441 citations could mean $968 for each rave-goer - MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Racine police intend for penalty to send message discouraging the parties
Last Updated: Nov. 5, 2002

Racine - Every one of the 441 people ticketed at a rave party over the weekend is facing a forfeiture of at least $968 for being a "patron of a disorderly house," police said Monday.
Rave: Police arrest 3, ticket 445 (11/4/02)

Racine defense attorney Mark Richards called the municipal tickets outrageous, saying a mass of people did not break a law simply by attending a party where some people may have been using drugs or engaging in other illegal activity.

"Your freedoms cannot be impinged upon by the stupidity of others," he said.

But Sgt. William Macemon, spokesman for the Racine Police Department, said all the party-goers were ticketed because it was clear the venue was being used for consuming and exchanging drugs. A Racine ordinance prohibits use of a premises for such purposes, and the party-goers contributed to the party being disorderly by remaining there, he said.

"A reasonable person should see these things and get out of the party," Macemon said.

Macemon said two undercover Racine officers witnessed drug activity after being tipped off by the U.S. Customs Service that a rave party was being held Saturday night and early Sunday at the Tradewinds Bar, 1518 Washington Ave. At that point, more than 20 uniformed officers descended on the party and spent the next four hours writing tickets, he said.

Four people received similar disorderly house tickets for $999, alleging they helped put on the party, Macemon said. Also, three people were arrested on drug charges, and marijuana, Ecstasy tablets and ketamine - a drug used by veterinarians - were seized, he said.

Daniel Thomas, 26, of Kansasville said Monday that based on other rave parties he attended, he expected there would be drug activity at this one. But he said he and his friends paid the $15 admission fee just to dance and did nothing illegal.

"I'm not going to give them $968; that's ridiculous," he said.

Thomas' girlfriend, 20-year-old Crystal Sheets of Kansasville, said she saw no drug activity. "I could not believe that I was getting a fine for someone having drugs there," she said.

Richards, the defense attorney, said those who ignore the tickets and don't go to court will be found guilty and then risk losing their driving privileges or being jailed if they later are stopped by police in Wisconsin. He said it was likely that the city attorney's office would offer plea bargains, resulting in lower fines.

Richards said that police should have arrested anyone breaking the law and, if the party was dangerous, should have simply shut it down and sent people home, as other agencies have done.

"How can you say that the people who are there who aren't doing anything are in any way disorderly? One-size-fits-all law enforcement - welcome to discretion in the Racine Police Department," he said.

Macemon said issuing the tickets is important because raves can lead to dangerous activity such as fights, sexual assault and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. He acknowledged that the citations could deter future raves in Racine.

"We do want to let people know this won't be tolerated in Racine," he said.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Police arrest 3, ticket 445 at rave - MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINAL

U.S. Customs tip leads Racine officers to hall
Last Updated: Nov. 4, 2002

Racine - Acting on a tip from U.S. Customs agents, Racine police infiltrated and then busted a rave party early Sunday, arresting three people, ticketing 445 others and confiscating various drugs, including more than 100 Ecstasy pills.

"To my knowledge, this is the biggest rave ever in Racine," Detective Lt. Robert Purdy said Sunday night. "There have been a few previous raves, but nothing nearly to the extent of this one."

Police said they received the U.S. Customs tip before the start of the rave, which was held Saturday night in the basement of Tradewinds, a tavern and banquet hall at 1518 Washington Ave.

Because of the tip authorities were able to plan the raid, Purdy said, with a "very strong, proactive law enforcement action" against drug activity typically associated with rave parties, which are underground gatherings of youths that feature techno music.

"Rave parties are not going to be part of our community and are not going to be tolerated," Purdy said.

Undercover police paid for admittance to the party, which was promoted as a "haunted house in a haunted theater," just after midnight. They were redirected by organizers to the party, where police discovered there was no haunted house at all, Purdy said.

The 25 police officers involved were able to contain the hundreds of ravers by blocking off all building exits, Purdy said.

Purdy said the "vast majority" of those attending the party were not from Racine, mostly because the rave had been promoted nationwide through fliers and the Internet. While some in attendance were from Milwaukee and Chicago, the rave attracted people from Nevada, Maryland, Missouri and Arizona, Purdy said.

Police said a 22-year-old West Allis man was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of Ecstasy; a 21-year-old Fremont man was arrested on suspicion of possession of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and drug paraphernalia; and a 21-year-old Bartlett man was arrested on possible charges of felony possession of Ecstasy with intent to deliver and felony possession and delivery of ketamine hydrochloride, an anesthetic.

The 445 party-goers were issued municipal tickets on accusations of being "patrons of a disorderly house with controlled substances," police said.

The event organizers were not among those arrested, Purdy said, but they were being questioned.

Purdy said Tradewinds staff, who rented the banquet hall to the party organizers, also were being questioned on whether they had knowledge of drug activity at the rave.

In addition to the Ecstasy, police confiscated marijuana and cocaine.