Monday, September 29, 2008

I want to arrest your friends, they're all so arty

Back in May, attendees at the Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit's popular, monthly Funk Night party were just a tad surprised when the assembled hipsters were joined in their celebration by ... well ... a fully decked-out SWAT team.

The cops yelled at the patrons to hit the floor. Witnesses said some officers used their feet to force down a couple of people who failed to move fast enough or asked too many questions.

The problem? Well, in throwing their parties, the art gallery administrators apparently hadn't filled out all of the paperwork that is required in our somewhat bureaucratized society.

To the police, CAID was a blind pig, where people were buying beer after hours. They handed out 130 tickets for loitering in a place where alcohol was being sold illegally and impounded 44 cars, which cost $900 to get back.

Cops found no drugs, no weapons, no people with outstanding warrants. ...

Timlin confirmed the visit, but said he believed he had made the necessary changes. He said the police told club officials May 30 that they also need a permit to allow dancing.

A dancing permit? After-hours imbibing at an art gallery? Clearly, the cops should have sent in a tank.

The gallery and the party-goers brought the ACLU in to fight the charges, and the story has a happy-ish ending. Loitering charges -- yes, loitering -- have been dropped against 116 of the attendees at the party. Unfortunately, the city hasn't completely admitted defeat. Gallery employees who tended bar or watched the door still face charges. And one of the attendees whose charges were dropped complains that he still had to pay $1,200 to retrieve his car (more than the $900 reported in the initial article).

But we need those regulations, don't we? They would never be misused or misapplied by overzealous police, I'm sure.

And they would never be abused as revenue enhancement devices.

Twelve-hundred bucks? For one of 44 impounded cars? Do the math.



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