Press enter after choosing selection

Police Arrests At Blues & Jazz Festival

Police Arrests At Blues & Jazz Festival image
Parent Issue
Day
5
Month
October
Year
1972
OCR Text

"There was one ugly incident outside the gates that involved some members of the old order trying to deal with this whole new rainbow phenomena. One of the few police present at the Festival violated the un derstanding that had been reached and tried to arrest a brother who was puf f ing the weed a little bit too close for the cop's comfort. The off icer was jumped on by the crowd as he tried to make an arrest, which failed as the brother with the weed got away in the confusión." The quote above comes from the last issue of the SUN, from the article on the Festival which had the headline "That's What We Would Cali a Real Good Time." Since it hit the streets this paragraph has caused some controversy and consternation, most especially on the part of the Ann Arbor Pólice. Not wanting to perpétrate any mis-information in any form, the SUN went about nvestigating this incident which occurred on Sunday, September 10, right outside the Festival grounds. We spoke with Lietenant Hill of the police department on the phone, and also spoke with several eye-witnesses to the scène, including members of the psychedelic Ranger force, who were present at the Festival specificaMy to handle problems which might develop so that the pólice would not be needed except in the most pressing of rare emergencies. From our investigation it's clear that the information we printed was inaccurate, so we want to take this opportunity to set the record straight. We have to critici ze ourselves for not making a thorough enough inquiry into this event before we reported what we'd heard about it. The most glaring naccuracy in our story is that the incident with the pólice involved weed. Apparently what the cops were after was some kind of "hard narcotic." They refused to teil us, on the grounds that the case is up for trial, what narcotic was nvolved. But our own investigation points to it most likely having been some cocaine if anything at all. The second inaccuracy is the statement that the brother got away in the confusión In fact, two arrests were made durinq the violence which broke out when the pólice tried to apprehend their suspected narcotics violators. Lieutenant Hi II tells the story this way: "The parties that were nvolved were n a tent which was open, and they were using hard stuff. As the officers were coming by they observed this-and I can teil you it was not smoking marijuana. And about this time there were alot of people milling aroun in the area where they had the tents. There wasn't any opening of the tent, looking in or anything like this, the tent f laps were wide open. And apparently one of the occupants observed the pólice officers and ran to these people and told them they were being watched. And Bam-boom the stuff goes into the pocket and he started to make off with it. And the officer stopped him. And from that point on all heil broke out. One of the occupants started screaming and the crowd moved right in; they started grabbing the officers to try and get them away." When asked how many people were nvolved Hill told us, "Oh Jesus , the estímate from the officers ran from 50-60 to close to a hundred. Two more pólice officers got over there, and we had a real wingding. And of course the more this guy screamed the more the crowd increased in size. One officer got his head busted with a bottle, they were kicking them in the groin. The officers were just trying to maintain custody of the subject and plead with the crowd to get back, let us do our job and get him out of there. Sargeant Bodenschatz was injured the most seriously." From talking to eyewitnesses the SUN pieced together the event this way. People out by the tents were quite honestly pretty crazed by Sunday night. They had been drinking a bunch of wine. Most were from out of town and were unfamiliar with the unique relationship that exists in Ann Arbor between people like themselves and the pólice, a cooled=out relationship at musical events that's been steadily built up during the past few summer's of the Community Parks Program. The pólice walked in on an uptight situation and made it worse. They weren't simply "coming by" the tents on a stroll; it was dark out and they were systematically ing'their flashlights into people's tents and faces. After sticking their head inside one tent and allegedly seeing narcotics, they grabbed one of the people nvolved and pulled him outside. People that were there said it looked like they went after a specific brother, leading many to think that they had a nare in the crowd who had told them who to piek off.whichfurther heightened the already tense situation. The pólice grabbed the brother and held him on the ground in some way as to provoke people who were already crazed anyway to try and stop the arrest. Somebody jumped on the pólice, a fight ensued, and more pólice were called in. Genie Plamondon, one of the organizers of the psychedelic Rangers, feels the whole incident could have been avoided if the police had kept to the understanding that had been reached beforehand and let the Rangers handle the situation. "They decided on their own to go in and deal with the situation outside of the fence rather than calling upon the Rangers. They questioned whether the Rangers could have handled it, " explained Genie. "They shouldn't have just walked in and started shining their lights in people's faces. If they thought something wrong was going on there, they should have called on the Rangers to check it out." So our reporting of the facts was wrong and we stand corrected. We have to criticize ourselves, but we also have to again criticize the pólice, because from everything we can piece together, including their own story, it looks like the violence done against those policemen was their own fault. The whole thing could have been easily avoided had the pólice left the problem solving to the Rangers, who have experience handling bogus-dope problems of all kinds, and can do it without causing riots. Some of out facts were clearly wrong, b but we can still stand by the conclusión we arrived at in the article based on the false i information we had at the time. "The police just don't know how to deal with situations like this festival. Only people who relate to the music and feel a part of the gathering, people who are part of the culture and not out to exploit or suppress it, can do the job right."