Phish Supporters Face Crackdown at Backyard garden

January 1st, 2014

A gentleman, briefly questioned by the police, tried to run and was quickly grabbed by two officers who threw him to the floor and slapped on handcuffs, as supporters in dreadlocks, fishnet stockings and tie-dyed shirts appeared on.

It was the start off of one more evening of revelry and arrests that has become some thing of a ritual in the traveling circus that accompanies the jam band Phish. At minimum 228 folks were arrested or obtained summonses at exhibits on the very first three nights of a 4-night time stand that was to stop Tuesday with a New Year’s Eve efficiency and without doubt much more arrests.

Illegal medicines have been woven into the fabric of the rock live performance knowledge given that prior to Woodstock. But fans of Phish, a Vermont band with an obsessed subsequent reminiscent of the Grateful Useless, seem to have designed an outsize status between legislation enforcement companies for hefty drug use.

In New York, the law enforcement have purpose to be vigilant. Just 4 months in the past, the authorities had been forced to terminate the final day of Electrical Zoo, a Labor Day digital audio pageant on Randalls Island, following two concertgoers died and 4 became significantly sick following getting ecstasy.

Provided the tremendous police existence in Midtown Manhattan on a typical day, marketing drugs outside the house a packed, intensely policed community function like a live performance at Madison Square Garden would look to call for a weighty dose of pluck, if not anything much more powerful. At the very least some of these arrested seemed to be informed of the hazard.

In 1 episode ahead of the Phish concert on Saturday, a guy named John Picrqlisi, 34, supplied to maintain look at as his companions, Steven Powers, forty seven, and Jeffrey Powers, fifty two, bought some mushrooms on the southwest corner of Eighth Avenue and thirty third Avenue.

“Make confident you really do not get caught, cops are everywhere,” Mr. Picrqlisi yelled to his two companions, in accordance to a prison complaint.

The buyer, who paid $ forty for the medications, was an undercover officer. The three guys have been arrested and charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance. According to the criticism, Jeffrey Powers had 424 capsules of MDMA, seventy one strips of LSD and 14 luggage of mushrooms in his pants.

Whilst ticket scalping and community urination accounted for some of the arrests above the initial two times, most had been linked to narcotics possession and income. Undercover officers have confiscated cannabis, hash, psychedelic mushrooms, LSD, MDMA or ecstasy, amphetamine and prescription drugs like Oxycodone, OxyContin and Xanax, amongst other medication, the authorities said.

Most of the offenders had been billed with misdemeanors or presented summonses, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s place of work. So much, ten folks have been charged with felonies, most of them for trying to sell medication to undercover police officers.

A web site named that publishes stories created by supporters about Phish-associated antics has a subsection about encounters with law enforcement with titles like “Caught with a Bong,” “What Pipes? What Paper?,” and “I smell herb!! No you don’t.”

In excess of forty folks had been arrested on charges of medications and prostitution at a few Phish displays in Atlantic Town from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, in accordance to news reviews. Above thirty men and women have been arrested at two Phish concerts on Extended Island previous calendar year.

In Oct, the police section in Hampton, Va., developed a YouTube online video welcoming followers to the city, with an officer declaring that the law enforcement department was “eagerly awaiting Phish,” even though cautioning that there would be further police in the spot.

“Yes, we will be implementing the violations of legislation,” Sgt. Jason Cost mentioned in the online video.

Outside the Backyard on Monday, followers of the band, recognized as Phish Heads, complained that they had been becoming singled out for scrutiny since of the band’s reputation, although few denied that drug use at live shows was common.

“I dislike to truly feel like just simply because of a specified search that Phish enthusiasts have, or a certain concept that goes with Phish, they’re specific in a very specified way that probably other fans are not,” mentioned Julia Johnson, 21, a senior at George Washington University. “We’re all here to see music that men and women enjoy and the medicines and all that are just a portion of the encounter that everyone is making an attempt to have together.”

Phish followers handed out a 39-page pamphlet, which incorporated a guidebook to resorts and dining places in New York Town, as effectively as addresses for nearby Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

A paragraph titled “Puff Puff,” reminded concertgoers that “25 grams or less of weed” is only a violation with no jail time as lengthy as it is not a user’s third offense.

The pamphlet also included an editorial plea to stage up coming year’s New Year’s Eve live performance someplace other than Madison Sq. Backyard garden, in which the band has performed each year because 2010.

“How about checking out some other wonderful Northeast venues?” the pamphlet stated. “You know the types that have reasonably priced lodging, easy transportation, and the place Our Group is extensively welcomed by the Neighborhood Community?”

Joseph Goldstein and J. David Goodman contributed reporting.

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