Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Festival promoter unaware of spying

Wakarusa fans attacking organizer in online forum

September 21, 2006


The promoter of the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival said he had no idea there were high-tech police surveillance cameras monitoring this year's festival, despite a state park official's statement that the promoter was informed in advance.

"That's totally false," promoter Brett Mosiman said.

Meanwhile, the manager of Clinton State Park retracted his statement that he told Mosiman personally about the cameras, but insisted he informed Mosiman's partner of the plan well before the festival started. That statement, too, is being disputed.

More than 80 people from 28 states were arrested during the festival, most of them for being a minor in possession of alcohol, but many for drug dealing.

Mosiman said he was upset when he learned of the cameras' presence last week through a Journal-World article. By one estimate, the wireless, night-vision camera equipment was worth about $250,000 and capable of covering up to 85 percent of the festival area.

"It just seems like such a ridiculous enforcement display, considering that this is a peaceful crowd that is very courteous. They pick up bottle caps and cigarettes," Mosiman said. "Somebody, somewhere declared this crowd and this festival public enemy No. 1. I honestly believe that the KU football crowd is more dangerous."

Mosiman said he's been under "insane personal attack" from Wakarusa fans upset by the suggestion he knew of the hidden cameras but did nothing about them.

Jenny Aberle, Fargo, N.D., lets her dreadlocks fly as she and thousands of Wakarusa Music Festival partiers dance to Spearhead in this June 2006 file photo. The organizer of the festival says he was not aware that law enforcement surveillance cameras would be set up at the Wakarusa site.

Jenny Aberle, Fargo, N.D., lets her dreadlocks fly as she and thousands of Wakarusa Music Festival partiers dance to Spearhead in this June 2006 file photo. The organizer of the festival says he was not aware that law enforcement surveillance cameras would be set up at the Wakarusa site.

"We were 'set up like a bowling pin,'" one comment on the festival's online forum reads. "All about the money," another says.

"Our reputation and our trust from the fans has been shaken to the core, and we're trying to rebuild that," Mosiman said.

The four-day, 70-band festival was in its third year this summer and had become a nationwide draw. But concerns about drug dealing caused police to double their presence at the park this year and to set up a traffic checkpoint outside the festival at an exit off westbound Interstate 70.

The presence of the hidden cameras - one of which was disguised as a vent stack on the roof of a restroom building in Campground No. 1 - was not revealed publicly until an article about it appeared earlier this month in the trade magazine Government Security News. The article described how the equipment, offered for free as a demonstration by a California-based surveillance company, helped police catch drug dealing on camera.

In an article last week in The Journal-World that described the surveillance, Clinton State Park manager Jerry Schecher said he'd informed Mosiman of the cameras about a month before the festival.

Schecher now says that, upon further thought, he didn't recall speaking to Mosiman personally about the cameras. But Schecher said he was certain he told Mosiman's partner in the festival, Nate Prenger, about the cameras roughly a month before the festival while the two were at the park together.

"I just kind of mentioned to him in passing," Schecher said.

Prenger said he remembers Schecher saying something about "surveillance activity" a day or two before the festival or just as it was starting, but only briefly. He said he didn't recall Schecher saying anything specifically about cameras.

"It was presented in such a manner that I didn't suspect that it was anything that would violate people's privacy," Prenger said. "I did not know they were taping things. I did not know the extent of the operation. It was literally a 20- to 30-second conversation."

Schecher said he was a supporter of the festival and that, all in all, he and Mosiman have a good working relationship.

"I hate it that his fans are kind of beating him up over this thing," Schecher said.

Mosiman said it was still too soon to say whether the festival will return for a fourth year.

"That's a decision that will have to be made," he said. "We'll have to look at it and say, 'Does everything that's happened make this too risky now?' Frankly, the answer is, 'Perhaps.'"


alm77 11 years, 7 months ago

That should be "them" not "there". Need more coffee.

jonas 11 years, 7 months ago

Spatial reasoning mom? Sounds like a superheroine.

Nikki May 11 years, 7 months ago

So, there was a camera on the bathroom? Wow, that sounds like a privacy issue to me.

xenophonschild 11 years, 7 months ago

Not me or mine . . . we're going somewhere else.

Play fantasy-fascist with other innocent dupes.

afred 11 years, 7 months ago

The NS Microwave site is interesting too. Notice that you have to be a law enforcement official to view the "Covert Cameras -> Concealment" section.

oldgoof 11 years, 7 months ago

Has the Kansas Highway Patrol yet responded to the open records request detailing the amount of public resources spent on this drug dragnet?

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 11 years, 7 months ago

"How come it's taken this long for this "promoter" to speak out against illegal police state activity?"

Probably because the only "illegal activity" taking place was on the behalf of the drug users. It's a public park, cops are allowed to conduct surveillance.

cowboy 11 years, 7 months ago

logarythmic seems to have forgotten the death last year , harmless ? Drugs are bad , while the majority can experiment and eventualy grow out of it many cant / dont. However I would prefer a visual presence of police instead of all the double secret crap ! kind of like that irritating LPD cop that hides in the trees with the radar gun

ksmattfish 11 years, 7 months ago

"All about the money," another says.

Heck, I'm on the hippies side, but they're smokin' way too much pot if they ever thought it was about anything but the money.

The solution is simple. Go back to holding these events on private land instead of government land.

davisnin 11 years, 7 months ago

"one of which was disguised as a vent stack on the roof of a restroom building "

On the roof. Not in the stall. Spatial reasoning mom. Of course I'm sure you won't be the only person in this forum today to read that sentence without reading it at all.

napoleon969 11 years, 7 months ago

Does anybody else detect some back-peddaling by "the man"? First he was sure the promoter knew in advance; now he says that's not quite right but he's sure the partner knew a month in advance; (partner doesn't believe that's so); next it'll all be tied to homeland security. They were spying in an effort to identify terrorists. What a bunch of bullpuckey. Have the festival next year but tell "the man" he can shove it; do it on private property and keep the Nazi's away.

alm77 11 years, 7 months ago

macon, not all of there are dopers and as a sober, law abiding, paying customer, I felt very violated when I found out about this.

logrith, 'so long'? I would imagine at first, if he didn't know about it, he was in a bit of shock, secondly, he had to deal with loads of hate mail, including some from yours truly, and then he had to come up with a statement, which he did two days ago, it's just now getting to the LJWorld. I think he's taken a reasonable amount of time to respond and not just react.

Michael Birch 11 years, 7 months ago

I can guarantee you the promoters did not know about

the cameras. Next year, wait until the last minute and

switch the location! One more thing, in order to

prevent this from happening again don't re-elect Sheriff

Trap! Law enforcement from outside the county can't

come into the county to conduct and investigation

without an invitation from the sheriff. If you don't

believe me, call the KBI and ask them!


afred 11 years, 7 months ago

BTW. According to the second article (prev. post) the Allied Defense Group (for which NS Microwave is an affiliate) recieved $3.8 million more in funding from those generous DoD fellows.

Now it's more clear. 3.8 mil is a pretty good ROI for a quarter million dollar "spy commercials". Not to mention, all the equipment that they get to sell to the law enforcement officials who got to wet their appetites using it.

The last sentence in the first article (prev post) alludes that Larrytown cops are looking in to getting some of the stuff for themselves.

Can't wait.

afred 11 years, 7 months ago

just because it is against american law doesn't mean it's "wrong", and just because it follows american law doesn't mean it's "right".

afred 11 years, 7 months ago

An article from Government Security News on the Wak Fest

Here's one about the company who "advertised" the equipement, NS Microwave.

this is from the second article...

"The current situation in Iraq demands the type of expansible, mobile surveillance system produced by NS Microwave that has been used successfully by the law enforcement community to reduce and deter crime in major urban environments where the war on drugs and violent criminal activity is an everyday event."

Yes, yes. Deciet. Spying. Get those evil doers. Holy crap, man. This is not my America. Someone once said that you can have freedom, or you can have security, but don't count on having both.

as_I_live_and_breathe 11 years, 7 months ago

BDitty said : I don't remember hearing too many stories about gang shoot outs over the selling of beer or cigs.****

Ever hear of prohibition> It was big during the 1920s and early 30s. I think tecnically the Mafia could have been considered a "gang" and they had lots of shoot outs over beer.

And the cigs wars are looming.

BDub 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe I'm missing something - possible, because I haven't read much about this until now - but I don't see where law enforcement has invaded anyone's privacy rights or done anything "illegal" as has been alleged by some here. When people are in public they have no right to privacy. Maybe if the camera was pointed inside the port-a-potty and not outside it - then you might have an argument. But anything you do in public is public. You have no right to privacy in public, period. If something they did invaded privacy rights, I'd be complaining too - but I can't feel sorry for anyone who breaks the law in public and expects not to be arrested for it just because they are at a festival. If you don't like the law, try to get it changed - but don't blame the people who enforce it if they haven't done anything wrong. From what (admittedly little) I've read - I don't see that they have.

pelliott 11 years, 7 months ago

as long as this spying is focused on suspicious people, young people, people of color, funny people and they don't start spying on innocent people, like the chamber, white collars, government employees rich people, academics, it should be ok. Rich people usually do harmless white collar type crime, rob the elderly of their pensions, the average joes of income and civil rights, and the young of their health by coorperate pollution of water, earth and air. I sure hope they don't start filming regular people, those old white guys deserve their privacy after all a lot of their parents worked hard for the money.

badger 11 years, 7 months ago

Y'know, pot's illegal. I got no sympathy for people who broke the law, knew they were breaking the law, and got busted. There's no accidentally not knowing possession is against the law. You choose to do that.

Now, should pot be illegal? I don't think so. But till it is, folks in public places need to be taking some care and using some discretion if they want to light up.

On the cameras, I think it was a right heinous thing to do. I think visible police presence prevents crime, where surveillance catches criminals, and I'd rather prevent crime any day. I am willing to bet they didn't clarify the extent of their surveillance with the promoter, and perhaps he and his partner thought 'increased observation' meant more cops?

We can be a culture committed to preventing crime, or we can be a 'gotcha' culture living in fear that we'll cross a line where a camera can see. I know which one I'd rather live in.

davisnin 11 years, 7 months ago

Taking down tag numbers and waiting to catch people as they leave the grounds, a POSSIBLE future crime, is not akin to this. They caught people IN THE ACT of breaking the law. Mostly MIP and drug DEALING.
I've had an MIP, guess whose fault it was? MINE! Not the cops for catching me. Have some @@#$#$ personal responsibility. Smoke your pot, I don't care, but stop whining about the police making it hard for you to break the law.

A visible police presence only moves these crimes to another area, it doesn't prevent them. As it was the dealers caught were gone at least for the duration of the event. It's the cost of doing that business.

gphawk89 11 years, 7 months ago

My slant on the whole thing: Who cares? It's OVER. No amount of griping is going to change something that happened three months in the past. By next year this will be a distant memory (if the dopers can remember it at all) and the festival will probably be just as well attended. I'll bet 95% of this years attendees don't know about the surveillance methods and the majority of those wouldn't care about it if they did know.

compmd 11 years, 7 months ago

log, I think you've been having wacky tabaccy before posting. Responses to your most recent post's paragraphs are as follows.

1) If the cops come to your tent, and it is open, and contraband is in plain view, you lose. Consider this similar to parking on the street and having an AK-47 on your passenger seat. Sure, it might be your car, but the gun is in plain view. Your "think of the children" ploy won't work if the children are in plain view.

2) How did they monitor energy use? The cops do not control Westar, and I doubt there are any who know how to read a kilowatt-hour meter. I don't know the particulars of the case and therefore can't make any definitive statement, but warrants are powerful tools that can be used to get information so long as a judge says so. In an open case, subpoenas are powerful too.

3) $12 billion dollars was a cost to whom and for what? "Busted" for marijuana possession could be a low-grade misdemeanor or ordinance violation; how many more severe traffic citations of equal value were handed out in 2005 and how much did they "cost"? Maybe we should ban cars!

4) Find a politician who will get those items on a ballot. The medical one could fly, but the others? Have fun with that.

Last sentence: This is a country of 296 million people. Pot smokers are a minority that do not believe that the laws of this country apply to them. If you're one of them, it isn't your country to take back.

Terry Jacobsen 11 years, 7 months ago

Good grief... we get spied on everyday. There are cameras on almost every traffic signal in town now. Guess what... I'm going to obey the law and they can film that all day long every day and I'm not going to lose any sleep over it at all.

gbaker 11 years, 7 months ago

Mosimam had to know. Besides, he still owes me money from a gig at The Bottleneck back in the early days. Maybe I should of filmed him that evening.

outdoor55 11 years, 7 months ago

Okay, I would like to revisit a "social problem...." Drunk driving before and after sporting events in this town. How many people drink and drive during the football season? I would guess A LOT!!!!!!!!! However, how many of those persons are highly educated, financial donors to this university? I would guess A LOT!!!!!!!! This is a matter of taking advantage of the lower class/less connected. If this town/state wants to raise money on the backs of the "law breakers" lets to it fairly. Send cops to KU and K-State football games to give out DUIs. Then let's see how many people bitch.

Porter 11 years, 7 months ago

Bditty- You're generalizing.

When have you ever read about a shoot-out over pot? A pot-bust gone bad? Murdered babies in a Marijuana "lab"?

Violence happens because of high-priced cocaine and heroine. Not marijuana.

ilovelucy 11 years, 7 months ago

Quit presuming just because you're peeved about lost money. If you want your money, why don't you talk to him? I believe that he didn't know.

BigAl 11 years, 7 months ago

Again, bottom line, spying on American citizens is wrong. Admit it or not, this is a flat-out case of spying on American citizens by our government. Is that the American way?

It was Ben Franklin that said something about anyone willing to give up a few freedoms for security deserves neither. I agree.

BDitty 11 years, 7 months ago

logrithmic- you keep on refering to smoking pot as a "victimless crime". Seriously? It's not like pot is grown by little innocent old ladies who then hand it out like candy. Drug trafficking is a violent and bloody business. Somewhere, somebody was killed so you could have the weed you are smoking. I don't remember hearing too many stories about gang shoot outs over the selling of beer or cigs.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 7 months ago

once again logrithmic I must ask...did beer drinkers beat you up in your youth? you can advocate pot without insulting people who enjoy alcohol(most pot smokers I know love beer) you try to hold the high moral ground but you constantly sink down to name calling and bashing at straw dummies....mellow the hell out. this is not some holy freakin crusade, in fact, your rabid zeal is one of the reasons pot has not been made legal.....Find more spokespeople who are well groomed and sucessful to advocate for it....leave the tye dyes at home if you want people to listen to you.

Gopher 11 years, 7 months ago


Douglas County Sheriff is Ken McGovern.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 7 months ago

"leave the tye dyes at home if you want people to listen to you."

What difference does it make what clothes someone wears? There's a whole lot more BS coming from folks in suits than from those wearing tie-dye, but it's not the suits that are saying it.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 7 months ago

I didn't make how society listens to people....I'm just stating a fact......If you do not believe me start dressing like a homeless person when you go for a job interview.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 7 months ago

The only way pot will be legal is when a bunch of suits pour enough money into lobbying to make it happen.....and if that happens it will turn into the beast you despise.

BigAl 11 years, 7 months ago

"Too many people make up and then whine about too many make believe injustices and conspiracies."

And too many people are rolling over, following blindly and giving up freedoms little by little. I am going to say this again: Spying on American citizens by the government is wrong. Period.

compmd 11 years, 7 months ago


Counterpoint 1: "There is an expectation of privacy in everything we do." Please cite the law(s) which detail this. If you are walking down the street and someone sees you picking your nose and they laugh, you can't tell them they weren't allowed to look at you. When it comes to filming children undressing in a tent, well, production of child pornography is a crime. However, that isn't the point here. You are making irrelevant and inflammatory statements to distract people from the actual case: recording to identify drug dealers. Seriously, lets be reasonable. A drug dealer is not going to be found with a camera pointed at kids in a tent. It was a "think of the children" ploy with subtle tones of "Chewbacca Defense" whether you intended it or not.

Counterpoint 2: No, I don't think its fine for everyone's energy usage to be monitored. Perhaps you did not actually read my post regarding warrants, subpoenas, and a police officer's inability to interpret data on a kilowatt-hour meter. Also, the $12 billion dollar price tag didn't have anything to do with this scenario, it was from another that you mentioned, so it seems rather foolish to tell me to "have another drink."

Counterpoint 3: Law enforcement? Yes. Not the kind of law enforcement official most would be familiar with though. Read my profile. Been there, done that, probably will do it again later on in life. I agree that some of our deficits can be helped by taxing the bejeesus out of alcohol and tobacco. I absolutely loathe smoking and am vehemently against irresponsible drinking. If there was an option to levy huge taxes on alcohol and tobacco on a ballot, I would vote for it. I understand what it could mean for our country quite well.

Counterpoint 4: I'm not particularly opposed to anything you replied with here. The problem lies with getting a politician (or several) to support the changes you suggest. Its a big task, and I don't think our society can do it right now. In a few years, its quite possible though.

I did not "fail" to mention nicotine or alcohol, both of which are dangerous, addictive substances. There was no reason for me to mention them; in your post I replied to there was not a single reference to either in any context. However, as I stated above, I think that these should be taxed so hard as to be a deter people from purchasing large quantities of either. This will decrease the amount in the open (because people won't be able to afford them) and will likely reduce deaths and sickness from related conditions stemming from alcohol and tobacco use.

compmd 11 years, 7 months ago

If my 295 million includes children, your 50 million does too. Look at the vast numbers of high schoolers that smoke marijuana. When the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of minorities in cases like civil rights, as you mention, it is because there is some sort of oppression against a class of people, usually race or ethnicity. These are unmodifiable traits, and the miniority wins over the majority because they can't change who they are. Someone who picks up a joint makes a choice: they can put it down again. Using your logic from your comment, it would be unconstitutional to condemn murderers. This doesn't work.

I don't know anything about control over research, and so I can't make an educated comment on it.

I'm curious why you think I'm a "boozer." I said nothing to indicate so. In fact, from time to time, I enjoy a beer with friends or a nice glass of wine with dinner, and thats it. If it is in reference to my "wacky tabaccy" line, I understand; however, you earned it by admitting to smoking weed in one of your posts. Its intriguing though that later you say you do not smoke.

Have a great evening!

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