High Times, by John Swenson —
A righteous local judge released 24 rock fans headed to Bonnaroo after police arrested them unconstitutionally in Tennessee. Warren County judge Larry Ross freed the festival-bound fans on the grounds that their arrests were unfair examples of profiling by police. The fans were arrested on minor drug charges, mostly simple possession of marijuana. The defendants, a group ranging from teenagers to people in their mid-thirties, argued that the Warren County Sheriff’s Department practiced “selective enforcement” by stopping vehicles with out of state license plates, then searching for drugs. The police also lied to defendants, using the Cops practice of saying they wouldn’t be arrested if they just turned over their stash. Erik Wielgos, 18, of Illinois, was charged with simple possession of marijuana. Edward Ziemba, 19, of Wisconsin was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia. “He [the officer] asked if we were going to Bonnaroo,” Wielgos said. “I said yes and he said he knew we had pot. He said if we’d just give it to him he’d let us go with a citation. If not, he said he had a K-9 unit with him and if the dog found it then we’d be taken to jail.”
The pair was jailed for their trust in the cop’s lies.
Ross heard less than an hour of testimony before deciding in favor of the defendants. Sheriff’s investigator Mark Martin admitted under questioning that it was “uncommon” for him to be assigned to traffic radar duties the morning before the festival.
Others caught in this sting had traveled from Oregon, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Arizona, Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Florida.
“The appearance of this was very bad,” said Mike Galligan, who represented the defendants for free. “I’m quite sure the individual officers acted respectfully. The concept, however, was wrong. It doesn’t appear fair, and it isn’t fair.”