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200 arrested at Widespread Panic weekend show

Discussion in 'Music genres, Bands and Artists' started by Phishhead, May 1, 2002.

  1. It sucks the cops had to set up a sting opeeration at something like this. Though I don't agree with some of the drugs that were found. I don't disagree with a little fun at a concert. Too bad for the people that went to that show and had to put up with that crap.



    » More From Today's Birmingham News

    News


    Concert drug net snares 200 arrests

    Fan dies at 3-day Widespread Panic event at Oak Mountain

    04/29/02

    ADAM GOLDMAN
    News staff writer


    James Clemmons sat Indian-style, hands cuffed and a cigarette dangling from his mouth.

    The 24-year-old St. Clair County Correctional Facility guard was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia and arrested at the Widespread Panic concerts this weekend at the Oak Mountain Amphitheatre.


    "Can I call my warden?" Clemmons asked from the asphalt.

    Operation Don't Panic, staged by the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and Pelham Police Department, involved thousands of dollars, hundreds of worker hours and dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers. It was one of the biggest ABC operations in recent memory.

    The ABC saturated the amphitheater parking lots with undercover agents to crack down on drugs and underage drinking. Late Sunday authorities said they had arrested approximately 200 people during the three-day concert, and half of those arrests were felony drug cases. Most of the others arrested were for misdemeanor drug charges and underage drinking.

    Their prey ranged from Mountain Brook High School seniors to a U.S. Department of Energy employee. Agents found fans carrying everything from cocaine to OxyContin. Several overdosed. Police said one woman died Saturday night of an apparent overdose after she took Ecstasy.

    "This is a terrible price to pay," said ABC agent Mike Reese.

    Widespread Panic is the new Grateful Dead: Their followers travel with the band all over the country. The group sold out Oak Mountain Amphitheatre Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to more than 30,000 fans. Police believed many would be bringing drugs. Widespread has a reputation for this.

    About 4:30 p.m. Friday, ABC Lt. Andy Hardy, who was running the operation, set Don't Panic in motion. Teams of undercover agents, usually groups of three or four men, would meander through the crowds. Agents in their 20s headed out, backed by middle-aged police.

    Behind the amphitheater's stage, Hardy had a mobile command center to process offenders. A Department of Corrections bus served as a temporary jail.

    Fans had alerts when undercovers were roaming. They crowed "6-Up" a line from Charlie's Angels or yelled "narc." Many stared at the command center hoping to memorize faces.

    The first visitor, at 5 p.m. Friday: Jason Jones.

    The 28-year-old Arkansan, charged with one misdemeanor count of marijuana possession, sat on a wall at the command center across from an ABC agent named Vance.

    "It's just weed," Jones said.

    "It's illegal in the state of Alabama," Vance responded.

    "There's a lot worse stuff out there," Jones said. "Believe me."

    Agents do have a sense of proportion. One agent, Flash, made a fan caught with a single pot bud and a pipe toss the drugs into a creek. Then he let him go.

    Michael Mann, 21, a University of Alabama criminal justice major and aspiring lawyer, wasn't so lucky. Flash arrested him about 10:30 p.m.

    "Please sir, I beg you. I don't need to go to jail,' said Mann, who was charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana. `You don't have it in your heart to let me go?"

    "One freebie a night," Flash said.

    An hour later, authorities broke down the command center. Officers with the Pelham and Hoover police departments were tired. The Shelby County sheriff's deputies who ferried the prisoners to the jail were also ready to go home.

    Officers regroup:

    On Saturday, the ABC agents and police regrouped about 3 p.m. There was no rain so the lots filled quickly. Hardy was ready.

    "It's time to hit it," he said.

    A couple of hours later, thousands had streamed into the amphitheater vicinity. Parts of Oak Mountain looked like a refugee camp, what with lost dogs wandering and the smell of the Port-O-Johns. Revelers stumbled. One girl could barely stand. Pot was thick in the air.

    ABC agent Adam and his team fanned out about 8 p.m. He took a confiscated ticket to trade for dope.

    He spotted 21-year-old Daniel Roosa with a backpack. Roosa and three undercover agents went behind a car. Adam took an Ecstasy pill from Roosa and said he was with the state police.

    Roosa was told to act as though he was old friends with Adam. "We're going back to the command center," Adam said. "Be cool."

    Roosa was until he started yelling "police" a few minutes later. Adam threw him to the ground and cuffed him. He had Ecstasy, cocaine, $1,600 and a scale in the pack, police said.

    Roosa, from Kentucky, was charged with drug possession and distribution.

    The command center was overflowing. Police were confiscating large quantities of Ecstasy, OxyContin, liquid acid, ketamine and a variety of prescription pills. Stoned young men and women stumbled around in flex cuffs. At times the command center better resembled a day care.

    Carol and Kenneth Hudson of Gadsden watched in disbelief.

    Their 21-year-old son Anthony died on Christmas Day 2000 of an OxyContin overdose. He had toured with Widespread Panic. This was the parents' first show they wanted to see how their son had lived.

    "We just had to see what was going on," Carol Hudson said.

    "I can't believe this," her husband said. "It's unreal."

    Jason Bartlett of Colorado, charged Friday with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, said the scene is harmless. He spent 20 hours in jail before a friend paid $100 to bail him out.

    "What they did to me was totally uncool," Bartlett, 30, a self-proclaimed ski bum, said Saturday. He said the authorities were ruining the concert.

    "We don't want to lose our scene," he said. "We are trying not to lose our vibe, but we are definitely scared."

    The hordes outside the amphitheater dissipated as the band started playing. Everybody was inside listening to the music, including 29-year-old Erica Robins Young of Chattanooga, who had come with friends.

    About 10 p.m. Young collapsed and began shaking, her skin ashen. People danced around her. Her friends struggled to help her, trying to find security guards. Finally she was dragged from the stands. Young got cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

    "It didn't look good," said Pelham Capt. E.A. Thomas Jr.

    An hour later, Young was dead. Police said she apparently bought some powdered Ecstasy for $20. Her dazed friends struggled to fill out police reports. They didn't know Young was dead.

    Operation Don't Panic ended about midnight. Pelham police worked the concert alone Sunday. The drugs, and the arrests, kept coming.




     
  2. This is one of the worst things I've ever heard! If those fucking cops try to pull this shit at Bonnaroo, that's gonna suck so much! Why can't fucking cops just leave us harmless potheads be and go arrest the drunken rapists and murderes?
     
  3. The Storm Troops strike again!! :smoking:
     
  4. That sucks. I hope they don't try and pull that shit at Hemp Fest this year. I went last year for the first time and I was actually surprised to see not one arrest, but with everything that's been happening in the world since then I don't know if they are gonna be as lax this year.
     
  5. It was coming sooner or later. The Oakwood has been getting pretty out of hand with flagrant dealing, OD's, and underage drinking. Parents have been on the police for months to do a major crackdown on the place. This is not a nationwide drugbust at concerts but the police have been hands off the amphitheater for several years and it was due for a bust. Sorry for all those who got busted.
     
  6. That makes sense, if parents have been complaining about it. 3 day concert that is sold out, a crowd that is usually known for "drug" use. Just sucks it has to be at a Panic concert. Hopefully we won't see anything like this next year there. Can't wait till Panic comes here in July for the weekend. Anybody who lives out west should come out :)
     
  7. Its not only in the concert, the amphitheater parking lot is a big hangout for many more young kids when concerts come in. The management of the place has also publicly complained about hange-ons and said the police didn't do enough to crack down. A few years ago they got busted for NEVER carding anybody who was buying beer and anybody who had five bucks could buy a cold one.

    Its not only rock acts. You ought to see the place when a country act plays. More fights than a Smackdown episode and the parking lot looks like a NASCAR race. But drunks would rather fight, while stoners would rather mellow out.
     
  8. Wow this sounded like a very scary experience! People busted for mere posession.
    If it has become a persistent problem @ this place, then I can see the bust being pretty probable, but why blame the BAND for the type of fans it has, when this Theater is quite clearly the issue?

    For those attending Bonaroo hopefully the site isn't notorious for excessive drug dealing/overdoses/etc. And, I'm jealous of you but have a lovely time because it'll be the jam band festival of the year HANDS DOWN!!!
    xoxo

    p.s. I wanted to add here: For those of you attending concerts, this is proof that bad seeds can ruin it for EVERYONE. People got arrested for mere posession of marijuana & now have a marred, because others OD'd and minors were drinking not-so-discreetly. Try to keep your drug usage on the downlow @ concerts ~ it may seem like a free-for-all, but there ARE people walking through monitoring what's going on ~ trust me, I worked @ a concert ampitheatre for a summer. Try to keep it discreet to preserve our concert freedoms!! Toke carefully~
    xo again :)
     
  9. Hi guys and gals.
    Sean Dugas here. I'm a reporter with the Pensacola News Journal in Pensacola, and I'll be at the Wharf all weekend long covering Panic.
    I'll be shooting photos, video and using Twitter at (panic2009wharf) to get everyone the latest and greatest from the lot and the show.
    Follow all the news at PNJ.com/panic or follow me on Twitter for quick hit updates.
    Got some news? Come find me; I'd love to see ya.
    This will be my third year in Orange Beach, and I know it's gonna be a wild-good time.
    Anything you folks would like to see in this weekend's coverage?
    Have a good one.

    Sean
     
  10. That sucks man, I got my chillum taken away at an atlanta widespread show. IT was fucking bullshit, bought it brand new at 42 degrees, fuckin pigs man. Widespread Panic brings the drugs, that is quite a true statement.
     
  11. Thats so gay how they set it up. they couldve set that up at any other concert and gotten just as many arrests
     
  12. It's just weed!
     
  13. #13 Sunny Jim, Feb 6, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 6, 2011
    Well thats Alabama for you. Jackbooted goose stepping racist stormtrooper crew cut wearing marine corps wannabes. Why I'm never moving to ol' dixie.

    They better not pull this shit at Vibes this year.

    on the other hand this is from nine years ago during the bush administration's big national crackdown. I still have my Free Tommy Chong shirt.
     
  14. widespread+alabama....yeah...I'm really not surprised at all.
     
  15. haha i just recently went to a widespread concert a few months back :)
     
  16. Thats crazyyy =S
     
  17. daaaaaaammmmnnnn i realli hope they dont do that in any festivals this year. Ima go to All good this year but now im a bit worried there gonna try to pull some shit.
     
  18. Anyone realize this thread is from '02??
     

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