Sometimes, you gotta fight for your right to party.
When a small army of cops showed up to shut down a birthday party in Florida in January, they got more than they bargained for. Rowdy party goers formed a human shield to prevent police from arresting a man on a marijuana charge.
And it worked: Police busted several other people for assault and obstructing officers, but they never got the guy with the pot. And they didn’t come out of the situation looking very good.
Police later acknowledged that things got out of hand when officers showed up at the house in Delray Beach. The cops said they were patrolling in the area because it’s known for drug use – an excuse used frequently by racist police departments.
An unmarked car arrived at the home, a witness said, and two cops got out. There were several people on the lawn, and they gathered around the officers, demanding to know why they were there.
The cops responded by yelling at the party goers and accusing them of drug use. They spotted the man they believed was smoking weed – a man they knew from previous contacts – and tried to arrest him.
Things escalated quickly
That’s when things blew up. The crowd grew angry, the cops grew angry, and the two sides yelled at each other on the front lawn.
“Then, a little later on, something was thrown,” said Cory Provost, a New Yorker visiting for the holidays. “You heard a glass crack, I think a bottle or something was thrown, and I believe it hit the police vehicle.”
The confrontation lasted more than an hour. After the original officers called in backup, there were four cops facing off against 70 residents and partygoers.
70 party goers formed a human shield
The attempt to make a cannabis bust apparently went south when the guests turned against the cops and formed a human shield. Provost said that wouldn’t have happened if police had worked to calm the situation instead of fueling it with macho cowboy chest thumping.
Party goers told the cops to leave the property, he said, yet the officers remained and continued the shouting match.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric going around that if you question police you’re anti-police, and I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “I think we want to have police approach situations with a little more compassion and respect because we, too, are human beings. If there was more trust in the community of our police, a lot of these situations wouldn’t happen.”