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Erik Burgess, Published December 03 2012

Possible last rave at Johnson's Barn draws 13 arrests

ARTHUR, N.D. – What might have been the last rave at a popular party venue here was a real bust.

Thirteen people were arrested at a rave at Johnson’s Barn here on Saturday, nine of them for drug-related crimes, said Capt. Mitch Burris of the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. Three minors were arrested for consuming alcohol, and one person was arrested on a warrant for outstanding parking tickets.

Of the drug arrests, eight involved possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia, and three involved the narcotics Vyvanse and Diazepam.

Burris said the sheriff’s office has been providing security at the barn since it opened in the ’50s, and specifically at rave events for about six years, with some officers being paid by the venue and others volunteering their time.

But citing large crowds, sometimes as many as 500 people, and rising illicit drug usage at rave events, Burris said the sheriff’s office will no longer be working security at those types of events.

He said management has expressed to him that, without the sheriff’s office policing the event, it’s unlikely that more raves will be held.

“We’ll provide security for any function that takes place out there, but in order for us to do an event like what was out there before, we would need three times the people that we had there last time,” he said.

Burris said more officers than usual were working the event on Saturday, which is probably why so many arrests were made. Typically at a rave, four to six paid officers are working the event, he said, but on Saturday, eight paid officers were on hand, and three unpaid officers, he said.

He said “a drug culture” follows these kinds of events, and illicit drug use has only risen at raves in recent years, so increased enforcement was called for.

“We just felt like we can’t turn a blind eye to what’s going on, so we sent more people out there,” Burris said. “It wasn’t a sting. It was our standard performance.”

State law would require licensed private security if any raves were held at the venue in the future, a specific number of personnel set by the sheriff’s office, Burris said. He added that even eight officers were not enough to handle the large rave crowds.

“We’re hoping that they don’t have the events because of the culture that they bring,” Burris said. “It gets to the point where it’s not feasible to have the event, and those are the concerns we brought up with the owner of the barn.”

A message left for management at Johnson’s Barn was not returned Monday evening.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518