At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, Jim "G.G." Laughlin was toasting marshmallows over a barbecue pit with his 7-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. Laughlin, an electronica DJ, was scheduled to spin records later that evening, during the second night of a weekend-long electronic-music festival held at a private campground in Potosi, Mo. Laughlin and his children had never gone camping as a family together, and they were having a great time. Suddenly he noticed a helicopter flying close overhead; Laughlin assumed it was just a news crew, checking out the scene. About 10 minutes later, however, Laughlin and his kids got a rude surprise. According to Laughlin, "Eight to 10 cops came walking down the hill toward us, hands on their guns, yelling at everybody to come to the center of the area, to come out with their hands in the air. My daughter was crying and saying, 'I'm never going camping again!' My kids thought we were being invaded by another country." Police ordered everyone at the campground to put their hands on their heads and march single file into a large pavilion, where other suspects were waiting. All told, an estimated 150 people were detained, both staff and partygoers, for about two-and-a-half hours while the police methodically searched their pockets, wallets and purses -- and, in a few instances, their hair and shoes. Laughlin maintains that police ignored his rights: "They just said, 'Stand up. Do you have anything that you don't want us to find?' I said, 'I don't have anything, and I don't consent to this search.' They didn't answer that. They didn't just pat me down; they reached in and pulled everything out of my pockets, looked through all my stuff and then handed it back to me. They did... More >>>
By Jim Laughlin
The July 14 shakedown in Potosi suggests that law-enforcement officials are as ignorant of the law as they are of the dance-music scene.