SPANISH FORK, UT — Music lovers enjoying a rave party went from dancing and having fun to being tackled by masked, militarized cops. Helicopter spotlights illuminated the property as men with guns and barking dogs frightened attendees and shut down the party.
The outdoor rave party was arranged on private property about an hour outside of Salt Lake City. It ended as a memorable scene from America’s War on Drugs.
The doors opened approximately 9:00 p.m. Attendees has purchased tickets and the event had been staffed by contracted security and medical personnel. For two hours ravers enjoyed DJ-driven music and dancing. Evidently, police officers believed it to be an “illegal mass gathering ” and were lurking inside the party from the start and were coordinating a planned raid by the Utah County Sheriff’s Department.
At 11:30 p.m., without notice, the fun was interrupted by a whirring helicopter overhead and men resembling soldiers storming the party.
“SHUT IT DOWN, NOW!” an angry voice can be heard on a video recording of the disc jockey.
“Get out now, or I’ll take your ass to jail,” barked one of the masked intruders, while being showered by a moving strobe-light and smoke machine.
The attendees were stunned at the sight. “I think they’re serious. They’ve got guns,” one voice could be heard on a video of the incident.
The air, which had just been filled with music and cheering a moment before, was now brightly illuminated by high-powered spotlights from above, accompanied by the sounds of aggressive dogs and men shouting.
As one eyewitness described, the crowd was treated “like terrorists” :
The helicopter dipped lower and lower and started shining its lights on the crowd. I was kind of in awe and just sat and watched this thing circle us for a minute. As I looked back towards the crowd I saw a guy dressed in camouflage walking by, toting an assault rifle. At this point, everyone was fully aware of what was going on. A few “troops” rushed the stage and cut the sound off and started yelling that everyone “get the f*** out of here or go to jail”. This is where it got really sticky.
No one resisted. That’s for sure. They had police dogs raiding the crowd of people and I saw a dog signal out a guy who obviously had some drugs on him. The soldiers attacked the guy (4 of them on 1), and kicked him a few times in the ribs and had their knees in his back and sides. As they were cuffing him, there was about 1000 kids trying to leave in the backdrop, peacefully. Next thing I know, a can of f***ing TEAR GAS is launched into the crowd. People are running and screaming at this point. Girls are crying, guys are cussing… bad scene.
The brutality continued. As gasping youths struggled to breathe, they were met with violence from the unwelcome party crashers.
The eyewitness continued:
* One of the promoters friends (a very small female) was attacked by one of the police dogs. As she struggled to get away from it, the police tackled her. 3 grown men proceeded to KICK HER IN THE STOMACH.
* The police confiscated 3 video tapes in total. People were trying to document what was happening out there. The police saw one guy filming and ran after him, tackled him and his camera fell, and luckily.. his friend grabbed it and ran and got away. Priceless footage. That’s not all though. Out of 1,500 people, there’s sure to be more footage.
* The police were rounding up the staff of the party and the main promoter went up to them with the permit for the show and said “here, I have the permit.” The police then said, “no you don’t” and ripped the permit out of his hand. Then, they put an assault rifle to his forehead and said “get the f*** out of here right now.”
After the smoke cleared, about 60 arrests had been made, reported the Salt Lake Tribune. It was a proud night for police officers bent on punishing people for getting high without permission.
“Police want parents of teenagers to know the dangers of illegal, clandestine rave parties,” explained the Salt Lake Tribune, reciting an official police press release. It should be realized, however, that the biggest danger of going to a party is the fact that America’s paramilitary police may burst in with guns drawn and ready to dole out some brutality and unnecessary arrests.
Roughly 90 officers had been assembled to participate in the mission, which was characterized as “enforcing crowd control.”
“The Sheriff’s Office will investigate and look into and find any illegal mass gathering going on, we will take the appropriate action to stop the party at that time,” said Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Gilbert.
Watch the video below:
The raid took place August 20, 2005. Nine years later, the area SWAT teams are just as aggressive and even more militarized. It is clear that the trends toward a police state did not spontaneously happen overnight.
In some irony, Utah’s ex-Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who once wielded the power to raid citizens with SWAT, experienced what it is like to have aggressive home invaders pointing guns at the people he loves. (Read Police State USA’s coverage here.)