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.



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