Save the Rave: AB74 improves, SFPD asks for ID Scans and Surveillance Cameras

BILL NUMBER: AB 74 AMENDEDThis act shall be known and may be cited as the Raves Safety Act

Two days after the San Francisco Youth and Entertainment Commission’s hearing on electronic dance music at San Francisco City Hall, Hillary posted the amended language of AB74 in the Save the Rave Facebook group.  It’s a huge change.  Instead of criminalizing all electronic dance music events over 3 1/2 hours long the way the original bill did, it’s now focused on ensuring that promoters have a safety plan — and it only applies to events with more than 1000 people on state properties.  And a lot of the specific requirements are very sensible, for example the health and safety section should cover “whether the promoter should provide free water, whether the promoter should prohibit any person under 18 years of age from attending the event, adequacy of ventilation, attendance capacity, and exit signs.”

Hmm … where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah, that’s right: at the hearing. In the Bay Guardian, Steven T. Jones commented

While the messages from the speakers varied, one consistent theme was that the city and state is better off practicing harm reduction strategies for addressing drug use and illegal gathering rather than trying to institute a broad crackdown, which new groups such as Save the Rave have pledged to resist.

Looks like people in Sacramento were listening.  Kudos to Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and her staff for engaging with the community and doing first-hand research, to SF Supervisor Scott Wiener for introducing a resolution calling for electronic dance events to be protected in the city,  to Save the Rave for catalyzing the opposition — and to everybody who testified at or attended last Tuesday’s meeting.  Of course this is only one battle.  I’m not a promoter or lawyer, and there may still be some problematic language in the bill; we need to be alert for potential additional changes.

Still, it looks like a big big win.  Yay us!

Meanwhile …

Totalitarian says what?

Yeah really. The link goes to a set of rules for conditions the San Francisco Police Department is proposing for all permitted events with over 100 people. A few excerpts:

3. All occupants of the premises shall be ID Scanned (including patrons, promoters, and performers, etc.). ID scanning data shall be maintained on a data storage system for no less than 15 days and shall be made available to local law enforcement upon request.

4. High visibility cameras shall be located at each entrance and exit point of the premises. Said cameras shall maintain a recorded data base for no less than fifteen (15 days) and made available to local law enforcement upon request.

And there are absolutely no restrictions on how the data would be used or requirements for any legal process to get that the information.  Yikes.  Talk about over the top.

So, the fight’s far from over.  Ah well, such is life as an activist: savor the victories, and move on to what’s next.

Now what?

There’s a definite sense of energy in the Save the Rave Facebook group, and they’ll be announcing their next in-person meeting soon.    In San Francisco, the biggest short-term event is the Entertainment Commission hearing on the 12th.  They’re taking written comments before the meeting, so it’s a chance for businesses as well as privacy and civil liberties non-profits to weigh in about the problems with the SFPD’s proposal.  And I believe there will once again be opportunities for people to speak in person.    Coming soon: Save the Rave at City Hall 2.

save the raveAt the state level, Save the Rave will have to decide whether to endorse the amended AB 74.  So far I haven’t seen any harm reduction experts or promoters weigh in one way or another on it.  And there are likely to be other battles: if law enforcement is asking for ID scanning and surveillance cameras in San Francisco, there may be similar issues elsewhere.   Looking even more broadly, Andy posted about a crackdown in a city in Idaho where mayor’s commission has been formed with local police to look at outlawing EDM events as part of drug enforcement activities.   How cool would it be if Save the Rave starts to work with other groups as part of a 50-state strategy?

Of course, there are a lot of different ways things could go at this point. The scene is much stronger when unified — especially if we work with allies in other targeted communities like hiphop. But the very diversity that’s a source of strength can make it challenging to work together, especially in an online environment. Still, the last two letters of PLUR stand for unity and respect (Frankie Bones has more), so I’m pretty optimistic that the group will sort through these problems.   It’s easy to underestimate ravers and it’s easy to underestimate youth … but it’s pretty looking at the results so far, I’m pretty optimistic that the group will sort through these problems.

In other words: stay tuned for more.