Monday, June 2, 2008
The CAID story - 3 days after...
A lot has been said already – blog postings spread like brush fire through Saturday and Sunday. There's arguments on both sides: one – illegal is illegal; the CAID's ability to stay open past 2:30 a.m. and to sell alcohol (even if it is for donations) is questionable – vs. two – this was excessive force, a cash-grab by the city and it terrorized a group of largely 18-21 year olds who were gathered here out of best intentions for revitalizing a city that they constantly hear their grandparents (from an era before 1967) glorify. They want to bring that back – and yet, as CAID Director Aaron Timlin said, they just ruined that for these kids.
What I've gathered here is snippets from some of the more potent postings over the last few days – as well as an interview with Timlin. Full disclosure, I was not there for the "Raid" itself, but I got there a half-hour afterward to help drive friends home. Every last Friday of the month, the CAID hosts Funk Night, a DJ'ed dance party from midnight to 5 a.m., featuring rare funk 45's all night. It was raided at 2:30 a.m. Saturday (5/31) morning by 20-30 Detroit police officers, dressed in all black, from the Vice Squad, the culmination of an undercover investigation citing drugs on the premises. (Maybe a joint or two amongst the 100 in attendance.) By night's end, at least 50 cars were towed away with a $900 ticket. The argument being, cryptically, that "we don't want them to come back here." (paraphrased)
Those not so much defending the cops as indicting the CAID's arguments have emphasized that it is illegal to sell alcohol without a license (436.1901 Michigan Liquor Control Code.) Apparently, it would have been legal to have a gathering in this unlicensed place with everyone drinking had their been no charge at the door or for alcohol.
The CAID has not been charged with anything as of yet - regardless, Timlin said what concerned him were potentially serious civil rights violations committed by the police. "This is a larger issue then an alleged 'Blind Pig' being raided," said Timlin, "this is about the healing spirit of Detroit being beaten down once again and a hundred innocent people and members of the CAID given a clear and violent “not welcome here” message. The years of complacency is coming to an end. Today at least 100 youths are standing up for their civil rights. It's been 40 years and the time has come for this generation to stand up and make a positive change."
Writing on a blog post, Drew from the Questions said: "It's one thing to make a drug raid or a Minor In Possession bust--but an entirely different matter when it comes to hand cuffing, arresting, and seizing personal properties from law abiding adults for dancing and drinking at a private affair on a Friday night in the warm Spring America. Law abiding citizens were beaten, intimidated, arrested, and held without cause for several hours before learning that ALL of their cars would be towed to the tune of some $900.00 impound fee."
Other arguments have been that the CAID had this coming – that they were playing with fire.
But this is bigger than what the venue did wrong, said Timlin, "we're [CAD] trying to bring something back, by any means possible [to Detroit] that it's healthy and creative renewal to the city. What they just did to these fragile kids, who are trying to go against 40 years of this impression of Detroit, with the riots, with what their parents and grandparents had to deal with, trying to come back to a city where their grandparents have been talking about..." referencing this new generation trying to make the city their own, "…and how they just had their first shotgun pointed in their face and told to shut the fuck up and 'don't even ask me my badge number or you're gonna be handcuffed,' that's ridiculous."
Aaron said a mother of one of those in attendance called up the CAID, afterward, during gallery hours. "She said, 'my daughter, she kept talking about this Caid place, it's late at night, and she's going up to Detroit and I didn't know what to think about it, then she kept coming back and bringing more friends and they would talk about it and they're parents would talk to me about it and it just seemed like a really nice place to get our kids back to Detroit and to think positively about things and then the cops come in and do this, and we just had a meeting…we're gonna sue the city.' They got all the parents together and said, No, it's not about focusing on the CAID, it's about what the city did."
More from Drew: "During this criminal attack on the CAID's legendary and socially important "Funk Night", people were lined up against the walls, physically and verbally abused, had their personal belongings seized and stolen by the offending officers, were threatened with gun violence, mocked, and eventually cut loose in the middle of Detroit with no transportation to get back to their homes--They were frightened, confused, intimidated, and flat-out violated by these goddamned fascist monsters! How can they do this and seriously think it's going to fly with the American judicial system?I mean, this is a serious fucking matter and needs to be addressed with an aggressive action to put a stop to this kind of "Police State" "anything goes" mentality that exists right now in the police departments."
Other arguments say that the CAID was always sketchy, or that, as said before, it somehow "had it coming" or whatever. But is this not excessive? Perhaps the indicters could argue that they were making an example? (Or using these kids as guinea pigs for a bigger SWAT run in the future?)
Timlin, speaking with a lawyer for the CAID was informed that "you can only tow a car when somebody has drugs, or they are actually involved in a crime of prostitution or drug trafficking. Most everyone's tickets are for loitering violations and they're loitering and they're not contributing to a crime!" (The cops, one of whom was reported to have joked??—that, "We're doing this for Kwame," had also said that to Timlin a variation of "We have to tow everyone's car, because if not that shows favoritism."
50-100 cars, at $900 a ticket…for a dance party with a bunch of 21-year-olds.
"Why would I do this other than I really believe that there's a possibility here to make this a better place?" said Timlin. "They just ruined that possibility – but they only ruined it if we subscribe to the fear!" (As he and Drew echoed, this is about controlling people, through fear.)
"What we need to do is, just have this huge event at the CAID and make sure it's just dry, no alcohol, no drugs, and we'll all drive there, and have them come if they want to. But this time we're standing up against it."
Timlin said his brother was outside at 2:15 a.m., before it happened. "He was outside and people were singing a song together, something like Kumbaya or something, a song that everyone could sing together and people were dancing inside. And he was walking back inside the CAID, while there were people singing together, in unison behind him, people that don't even know each other, and he thought, Man, this is so awesome! And then…boom."
In closing, Drew wrote: This matter is pending...POWER TO THE PEOPLE (especially those who just want to dance together)
Find each other – join together.
Further reading on the issue:
Posted by jeff milo at 4:59 PM