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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The "bronze" did bad? San Antonio PD may have violated rights of "Mad Max" fans

Looks like the story about the "Mad Max" fans arrested in Texas posted here yesterday was really something that the media blew way out of proportion. Photos of the event are now getting posted and some of the participants have been sharing the experience online. The initial news reports would have you believe that freaks on motorcycles were weaving in and out of traffic around the tanker, waving machine guns at everyone. But Dholcrist at Ain't It Cool News was one of those jailed and gave his description of the scene...
The articles posted aren't too terribly accurate, we weren't recreating anything, we just dressed up some guys, made some cars and trucks look like they were from the movies, and followed a tanker Chris had hired out to the Drafthouse. Yes, on the back of one of the trucks we had a fake zip-gun made of bright white plastic, but it's a ZIP GUN. Y'know, the quad-barrelled arrow launcher? So we all just traveled in a single line on the highway, under the speed limit. We weren't "surrounding" the tanker truck, we didn't carry "fake machine guns" (the only fake "gun" was the Zip Gun, which was blatantly fake). Vernon Welles was even there (better known as Wez), driving a replica of Max's car.
You can see the fake zip gun in the photos link above. And apparently local law enforcement was notified that this was going down so they shouldn't have been this over-reactive.

All the same, a dozen people spent most of the weekend in jail... and I can't find a damned good reason why they should have been locked up at all. But what really bothers me is what's being widely reported as one of the charges levied against them. From the Chicago Sun-Times website...

'Mad Max' fans mistaken for militia get arrested in Texas

April 19, 2005

SAN ANTONIO -- Eleven "Mad Max" fans armed with fake machine guns were arrested after they surrounded a tanker truck while making their way to a movie marathon in a theatrical convoy.

As the group headed to San Antonio on Saturday, police received several calls from drivers who reported a "militia" surrounding a tanker truck.

Police charged nine people with obstruction of a highway and two others also with possession of prohibited knives.

One of the organizers, Chris Fenner, said the arrests were unfair. He said he didn't know why anyone would have confused the costumed crew re-creating a scene from Mel Gibson's cult classic "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" with a real threat.


Now, would somebody please tell me what exactly a "prohibited knife" is? Because my Dad and I make knifes for fun and profit, and we know a lot of the people that are real masters of this craft. And this has got to be the first time I've ever heard of possession of a knife being illegal. Yeah I know, it's against the law to bring one onto school grounds in most places nowadays. Even those laws go too far (expelling valedictorians for accidentally leaving a butterknife in a car floorboard...?!) but we're talking about mature adults here, who chose to have some fun in their own way and in a manner that did not stop anyone else from doing the same... and the only thing that was found to be thrown at them was a dubious assumption that if something LOOKS dangerous then it MUST BE dangerous and therefore "prohibited".

Could someone please send me the statute that these guys violated for possessing "prohibited knives"? 'Cuz either this reporter got things WAY wrong, or there's some laws on San Antonio's books that are in apparent violation of individual rights. Or the SAPD overstepped their authority and committed gross negligence and illegally deprived several people of their rights.

Not that I'm THAT big a fan of the "Mad Max" movies, mind ya... but the police department's rationale for arresting these guys doesn't pass the smell test.