After forcing gallery goers, who were there for a party, to the floor cops found no drugs, no weapons, no people with outstanding warrants but handed out 130 tickets for loitering in a place where alcohol was
being sold illegally and impounded 44 cars, which cost $900 to get back.
Detroit Free Press reports
The DJ was spinning old records by James Brown, Aretha Franklin and
the Meters during Funk Night last weekend, when the heavily armed cops
dressed in commando-style uniforms burst into the west-side Detroit art
The cops yelled at the patrons to hit the floor. Witnesses said some
officers used their feet to force down a couple of people who failed to
move fast enough or asked too many questions.
conduct raids frequently for all sorts of illegal activity, and the
public never hears a thing. But cops almost never raid art galleries
filled with young hipsters, students and at least one lawyer. So this
May 30 raid, not unexpectedly, is turning out to have an afterlife: The
gallery and patrons have decided to fight back, and the American Civil
Liberties Union has become involved.
The site of the raid, the
Contemporary Art Institute of Detroit -- CAID -- on Rosa Parks
Boulevard, is a nonprofit that, for 29 years, has promoted art and art
education in Detroit. Aaron Timlin, CAID's executive director and a
Detroit booster, notes that CAID's current exhibit, architectural
designs to improve neighborhoods, is cosponsored by the City of Detroit.
patrons, Funk Night, which lasts from midnight to 5 a.m., is a popular
monthly dance party that is the laid-back essence of a sophisticated
"Most of the people are young, instead of a bunch of young
girls and old men, like at a dance club," said Brittany Dallas, 19, a
Wayne State University student who was ticketed at the raid. "Since it
is an art gallery, there are really cool, cultured people ... instead
of at a dance club, where there are people that are trying to get you
drunk and take you home."
To the police, CAID was a blind pig,
where people were buying beer after hours. They handed out 130 tickets
for loitering in a place where alcohol was being sold illegally and
impounded 44 cars, which cost $900 to get back.
Cops found no drugs, no weapons, no people with outstanding warrants.
spokesman James Tate said officers warned Timlin about violations
during a visit several weeks ago. "We don't often do that," Tate said.
"He was advised of the issues he needed to clarify."
confirmed the visit, but said he believed he had made the necessary
changes. He said the police told club officials May 30 that they also
need a permit to allow dancing.
"Everyone thinks it's ridiculous we have to have a permit for dancing," Timlin said late last week.
37, is an art promoter and provocateur who once stood in boxer shorts
at East Warren and I-75 to promote an exhibit, and another time walked
from Detroit to New York wearing a cardboard box.
He asked why
CAID can't get a break on laws about dancing, for instance, when the
city, as he puts it, "bends the rules" on taxes and other issues to
convince large companies to locate downtown.
As a response to the
raid, Timlin has launched a week-long arts festival that started at
midnight Friday and will end with a concert Saturday.
Timlin is lining up bands, artists, lecturers, filmmakers and others to keep the CAID going 24 hours a day for 8 days.
going to dance without a permit," he said. "If we get a ticket, we'll
fight the ticket and change the law. People should be able to dance
where they want."
A number of patrons and their parents said that
they can understand getting a ticket, but they are livid about having
cars impounded and having to pay $900 to the Wayne County Prosecutor's
The payment is based on a state law that allows police to
impound cars for drivers accused of involvement in drinking, gambling,
drug and prostitution violations.
Patrons have court dates
starting today. Many plan to plead not guilty and ask for a trial. An
ACLU-affiliated lawyer will be there.
Thanks to Lew Rockwell.com