Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2006

1971 drug raid recalled in light of Wakarusa fest revelations

September 23, 2006


Long-haired hippies. Dope. Zealous police.

What a difference 35 years doesn't make.

Long before the police checkpoint and high-tech hidden surveillance cameras that caused a stir this summer at the Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival at Clinton Lake, there was Vern Miller.

Miller, then Kansas attorney general, made headlines in the early 1970s for promising to land with "both feet" in Lawrence's hippie-filled drug culture.

And so he did in pre-dawn raids on Sept. 24, 1971. That was 35 years ago Monday.

"We met out here about four o'clock in the morning. It was all full of patrol cars," retired Lawrence Police Detective Don Dalquest said Friday, sitting on a bench at Broken Arrow Park, the improvised headquarters for the raiding party of 80 law enforcement officers from five agencies that Miller led on sweeps through Lawrence.

"Vern Miller was here and he was standing on a bench," Dalquest said. "He told us we were going to be part of a drug raid, that we'd made some buys. We had a bunch of search warrants, and they'd broken us up into teams."

Enduring drug war

Monday's anniversary is a reminder how little and how much things have changed.

"We still have large raids, especially from long-term investigations," said Jeff Brandau, special agent of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. "They're generally ... a little bit more low-key" than those staged by Miller.

The blond, athletically built attorney general in one raid gained widespread publicity for leaping from the trunk of a car.

Overall, Brandau said, illegal drugs are still a constant source of concern for law enforcement.

"It's rather sad, to be honest with you. It hasn't gotten to be less of a problem. It continues to fester in society," he said.

Restoring order

That morning 35 years ago, about 20 people, mostly Kansas University students and including the son of a judge in another Kansas county, were arrested for charges including selling marijuana and amphetamines and possessing LSD.

Drug Riad Anniversary

35 years since dramatic raid Enlarge video

Dalquest recalled he was paired with uniformed officers and KBI agents. His assignment as they raided a home on Connecticut Street, he said, was to make sure the suspects didn't flush the drugs down the toilet - something he stopped them in the process of doing.

It was at least the third raid Miller had staged in Lawrence, according to news reports at the time. In the months before the raids, racial tensions and opposition to the Vietnam War had led to violent street clashes between protesters and police.

"There was a need for someone from the law-enforcement community to restore order because there was no order," said Ed Collister, a Lawrence attorney who was an assistant attorney general at the time of the raids.

'Cowboy mentality'

Some people viewed Miller's tactics as grandstanding - or "hot-dogging," in the words of Charles Whitman, a local defense attorney in practice at the time.

"I just don't think it's good law enforcement," Whitman said. "That's just the cowboy mentality. I don't think it turned out to make much of a difference one way or the other in law enforcement or the course of social behavior."

In later years, Miller became a defense attorney and still has a practice in Wichita. He couldn't be reached for this article. But he said in a 2003 interview that he still believed drug dealers should be prosecuted strongly, though he favored a change in Kansas law that provided for treatment instead of prison for drug users.

"My whole philosophy was everybody should obey the laws. If you don't like the law, change it," he said in 2003. "I've got clients, they're addicts and they were arrested for possession. These guys aren't criminals, and they shouldn't be in jail."

Sending a message

In comparison with the roughly 20 people arrested in the 1971 raid, more than 80 people were arrested during the four-day Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival earlier this year - most of them for being minors in possession of alcohol, but many for drugs.

In both cases, the Douglas County jail and the court system required special measures to deal with the increased volume.

In both cases, law enforcement had given a warning a few months ahead of time. Earlier this year before the Wakarusa festival, police warned they planned to double their presence - in part because of concerns about drug dealing and a drug-related death at the previous year's festival - and urged people to leave drugs at home.

Miller's raids in Lawrence began in early 1971. Two months before the September 1971 raid, he had warned publicly that there was still drug dealing in town and that more raids could be coming.

"It was just the way Vern operated. I don't think it was good or bad," said Mike Elwell, who was county attorney at the time. "He was in it to kind of send a message."


grimpeur 11 years, 6 months ago

"Oh my god, this War On Terrorism is gonna rule! I can't wait until the war is over and there's no more terrorism!"

"I know! Remember when the U.S. had a drug problem, and then we declared a War On Drugs, and now you can't buy drugs anymore? It'll be just like that!"

lunacydetector 11 years, 6 months ago

i remember when vern miller put agents on national airlines that over flew kansas. since kansas had some weird drinking law, requiring a membership in order to drink at a bar, any over flights serving alcohol within kansas' border were in violation. so, vern had agents force these passenger jets to land in kansas for violating the drinking law. it made national news. johnny carson told jokes about it.

GOPConservative 11 years, 6 months ago

To equate someone partaking of a wild plant in the privacy of one's own home to "kicking the skull of every weak numbskill" is a perfect example of the irrational mind set of repressive socialists.

That is similar to Kline equating a 16 year old boy having sex with a 15 year old girl as being the same as a 45 year old with a 15 year old. Extremism like that is typical of totalitarians.

Traditional conservative thought is one of finding a balance between freedom and responsibility. People should be free to do as they please so long as they don't hurt others. I said that, but in your zeal to use hyperbole to justify your irrational views, you must have missed it.

Contrary to your conclusions based on nothing but irrational conjecture, I am not a "hippie leftover." I have been a successful businessman since shortly after I finished my post graduate degree.

As an American businessman, I traveled through the Soviet Union during the totalitarian communist era. It was not anywhere close to what you irrationally imagine.

You would have liked it there. There was very little crime. People felt free to walk the streets at night. People could leave their doors unlocked, and their keys in the cars. People even felt free to complain within limits.

However, just as here in America today, people were watched very carefully by the authorities. And just as in America today, a great deal of the nation's resources were tied up in paying watchers, informers, regulators, inspectors, police, prosecutors and prisons.

In the old Soviet Union, if people stepped out of line, used marijuana or made too much trouble, they were locked away. Yet, even at the height of the Soviet Empire, a much smaller percentage of people were in prison than in the United States today.

Under the repressive socialists, who have been in power in America for most of the past 25 years, America is becoming another Soviet-style state replete with a corporate politburo that controls all branches of government.

Contrary to your naive assumption, people can go to prison in America for speaking out. Crooked "drug warriors" are known for planting evidence in the homes of "trouble makers" at the behest of offended politicians. Hostile tax audits by the IRS have also become quite common in recent years.

The Patriot Act now gives expanded powers for authorities to label a citizen who speaks out as a "suspected terrorist" and to detain that person indefinitely without trial.

You obviously need to read more, meet more people, study history and travel to other countries if you want to free yourself from making the kind of irrational statements and assumptions we see in your posts above.

betti81 11 years, 6 months ago

"...more than 80 people were arrested during the four-day Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival earlier this year - most of them for being minors in possession of alcohol, but many for drugs."

please stop saying 'most'--how about a number? a percentage? something quantitative. sheesh!

GOPConservative 11 years, 6 months ago

Repressive socialism and totalitarianism is just as wrong in America as it is in China, Korea or Iran.

Unfortunately, big-government socialists like Phill Kline and Jim Ryun are presently in control at both the State and National level. They want the government to have more control over the private lives individual citizens, not less.

The Drug War is only one of many examples of the socialist policies that these totalitarians promote.

These busy-bodies want government to be bigger, more repressive and more like the Chinese government, which is currently bankrolling the deficit created Ryun and the other fiscal liberals in Congress in support their socialist hegemony and other totalitarian measures like the drug war.

dozer 11 years, 6 months ago

Marion - are you now claiming to be a former KBI agent?

dozer 11 years, 6 months ago

Your are too much Marion. You spin a nice tale, but in the end, that's all it is, one big tale.

You claim to be able to prove all the things you say, yet you never actually follow through and provide the evidence. Name dropping proves nothing.

So by all means, post your "old case files", and prove me wrong.

dozer 11 years, 6 months ago

Marion - I called you out on your employment because more than once you've made claims that are simply false. Clearly in this instance you have proven your employment under Vern Miller, however brief if may have been.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 6 months ago

As a matter of balance law enforcement should set check up points after KU football games on a frequent basis to protect citizens from drivers under the influence. Please the whole world knows this practice is not restricted to students. If not the message going out is approval so long as it's a function of KU sports. It's all about equality.

Cait McKnelly 11 years, 6 months ago

"It's rather sad, to be honest with you. It hasn't gotten to be less of a problem. It continues to fester in society," he said.

Don't you think that this is an indication that for 30 years our approach has been a bit wrong?

mooseamoose 11 years, 6 months ago

Well I don't always agree with Marion but he hit the nail right on the head!

Kudos Marion.

drewdun 11 years, 6 months ago

The laws will never change until the baby-boomer HYPOCRITES (who used drugs at a far more impressive clip than the youth of today) turn off their suburb-think for one second and realize that the current system does far more harm than a person smoking a joint (point of clarification: I do believe that drugs like crack and meth should remain illegal, but the emphasis should be on treatment, not incarceration). But no, its much easier to support the status quo, even though I would bet that over 80% of people under the age of 50 have smoked pot. I would even bet that most of our oh-so-moral 'protectors' in government, including politicians and law enforcement, have toked up before. To rid our society of this blatant hypocrisy will take a candidate with brass balls who can stand up to the moral 'outrage,' feigned or not, from the busy-body do-gooder suburb trash, and speak sense to the great majority of people.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 6 months ago


You've smoked one too many doobies. That's bong resin speaking, not logic.

The United States Supreme Court, even during its most liberal years, consistently held that the Constitution does not guarantee anyone the right to do something illegal, even in your own home. If the opposite were true, than a child rapist would be fully immune from the law so long as the rape of children occured within the "sanctity" of the home.

The Wakarusa Fest was held on public grounds. Everyone knew that drugs were going to be present. In fact, if we all cut the crap, it would be admitted that part of the lure of the Wakarusa Fest was the drug presence. Law enforcement has every right make efforts to enforce the laws of Kansas and the United States of America. The drug presence was illegal.

As for the money. No criminal is justified in enjoying the fruits of their crime before or after they've been caught. The opposite is like saying a bank robber is fully entitled to the money after they've been caught and convicted.

Stop doing drugs, stop selling drugs, stop engaging in illegal activities that hurt innocent people. Otherwise, a civilized constitutional society will place you were you belong, jail. And yes, we'll take your money away as well. What a rotten country we live in were we actually enforce our own laws. We've all been gyped.

GOPConservative 11 years, 6 months ago

One of the most basic principles of traditional conservative values is that people should be free to do what they want in private so long as they don't harm others. I do not believe totalitarian laws in the first place (let alone enforcing them).

If someone wants to use marijuana, basil, coffee, sugar, sassafras or any other substance in the privacy of his own home, that's his own business.

Personally, I avoid the use of drugs, especially those manufactured by the corrupt pharmaceutical industry. Even though I don't believe in drugs and some other things that people are known to do, I do not support laws that try to control other people's private behavior.

BTW, this isn't the first time that some irrational idiot has claimed that my belief in traditional conservative principles indicates that I must "have smoked too many doobies." However, it should be obvious that such irrational statements speak for themselves.

I believe in traditional principles of Conservative Republicanism. Unlike Marion, it no longer matters to me whether someone is officially a Democrat or Republican.

Party affiliation became irrelevant when the Christian Coalition took over my Party twenty years ago. Time-honored Republican principles were thrown out the window.

The goal of limited government was replaced with the goal of expanded and more repressive government. Free enterprise and competition were replaced by monopolies that destroy competition. Fiscal responsibility was replaced with borrow-and-spend fiscal liberalism. And worst of all, the private lives of our citizens were no longer considered sacred.

Vern Miller would make a great Republican today. The socialists of the Christian Coalition in Kansas would embrace him just as many now embrace Fred Phelps.

Pat Robertson's "coalition" has locked out many good Republicans like Paul Morrision from participation. Paul had to become a Democrat in order to make a stand for conservative Republican values.

Since party affiliation is now irrelevant, all that should matter is the ideology of the candidate. Many Democrats today are much better Republicans than the totalitarian socialists who currently have a stranglehold on my Party.

GOPConservative 11 years, 6 months ago

I believe Marion and respect that he now indicates that the drug war represents the worst kind of socialism.

As the examples Marion provided demonstrate, big-government repression always leads to corruption.

There is no difference between crooked "drug warriors" and the people they fail to apprehend. They are both on the same side. They are both making money.

It is all a charade. Crooked drug warriors set up and shakedown addicted kids while both the "warriors" and the top level drug dealers skim off money and invest it.

Meanwhile, we taxpayers get hit with the astronomical costs of enforcing this invasion of privacy, and these addicted kids waste their most productive tax-paying years at an annual tax COST of about $50,000.

In addition to corruption, this kind of fiscal liberalism is also always associated with these futile big-government attempts to control private behavior.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 6 months ago

The argument that "one is entitled to do whatever one wants in one's home" is a logical fallacy to a spectacular degree. No doubt this argument is the illegitimate child born from bong resin and lsd leftover from the 60's. The fact is, living in a civilized society comes at a price. That price is adhering to its laws. Our society is unique in that some things are viewed and protected as inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. The law must adapt to thes rights. Other activities do not require the law's adaption. Drugs, rape, child porn, corruption, etc, are activites that although are individualistic expressions are not inalienable rights. Such things by their nature are harmful to the sustaining a peaceful society and therefore there is an interest in making laws prohibiting them. Yes, drugs are harmful to maintaining a free society.

One might argue, "we'll let's just throw out the oppressive institution and opt for unrestrained individuality." Great, I'm all for it. Such a state is actually quite logically expedient b/c it allows logical folks to bypass persuasion and go straight to kicking the skull of every weak numbskull in. I doubt anyone is willing to take individual expression to that degree. So, let's be realistic and admit that society and its laws play a useful role.

On the grand scale of things, considering the lack of oppression by way of punishment like lopping a hand off for stealing a loaf of bread, or beheading one for speaking ill against the king, there has never been a government in the history of the world that treats its citizens with more civility and justice than the United States of America. Not that it is without flaws, but generally, we have the best system ever invented unless of course you want to break the law.

The fact that folks like GOPbongresin can speak ill of the institution and laws of the US and the state of Kansas without being arbitrarily thrown in jail in the dark of night illustrates the incredible freedoms we enjoy.

Until you've lived under truly despot governmental circumstances, all this talk about totalitarism is nothing more than a bong-head hippie leftover from the 60's trying to sound smart by quoting idiots like Lenin. If you lived in Lenin's govt you'd be so O.D.'d on drugs and vodka that life would be one big episode of intoxication that you might never know the poverty and lack of meaning you existed in. Are you seriously that bored?

Porter 11 years, 6 months ago

The War on Drugs is a self-sustaining mechanism.

As long as we pour billions of dollars into limiting drug supply in this country, we keep the price of illegal drugs high (no pun intended). The government will argue that the addiction of illegal drugs creates associated crime. I disagree strongly. The high price of illegal drugs creates the associated crime.

How much does it cost to grow weed? Process cocaine or heroine? It costs a hell of a lot less than what the dealers charge the consumer. The War on Drugs turns these chemicals into valuable commodities. The supply limitations increase dealer's wealth. The high price causes users to commit crimes to pay for their addiction/recreation. We've made Colombians and Afghanis rich.

My suggestion is to stop the war on drugs now. Invest half of the budgeted money on rehab and REAL drug education (not the 'Just say NO' variety, but helpful information). The street value of narcotics will crumble and it will no longer be a valuable commodity. Dealers will stop selling. Buyers will stop buying. Crime will go down.

Before you complain that drug use will increase and mother will be raped, I beg you to stop and think. Is our current plan truly preventing drug use?

dozer 11 years, 6 months ago

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you Marion, I was out drinking beer with the Progressives.

Here are three examples where I am in your words "PUTTING UP" evidence that you are clearly wrong. Sorry I don't know how to create the nifty link like you, but I'm sure you can find the articles.

Until the next ridiculus thing you write, I remain yours truely, Dozer.

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