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Police Raid Christian Church Event for Drugs

posted 03:21 AM EST, Mon August 03, 2009
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Police Raid Christian Church Event for Drugs © Photo Credit: Russel J Smith

Police raided a Christian church music event in Acme Pennsylvania over the weekend, arresting 21 and seizing a significant quantity of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Followers of the non denominational Church of Universal Love and Music worship through listening to live music and dancing, much to the chagrin of church neighbors who, for a while, managed to stop the church from holding their boisterous events. Although the county interceded on the side of neighbors, the church sued last year on First Amendment grounds and won a settlement of $75 000 and secured the right to hold a limited number of weekend concerts per year on the church’s privately held property in Ajax.

Officers Raid Weekend Concert Event

Undercover officers mingling at a past church event witnessed flagrant drug use and commerce and the evidence they brought to a judge was enough to secure a warrant to raid last weekend’s event. Assistant District Attorney Mark Brooks, leader of the Fayette County Drug Task Force, said that what undercover police told him about past concerts “made it sound like Woodstock on steroids”

Police say that as soon as they stepped out of their unmarked car at past events, they witnessed drug use and were offered drugs. Undercover police described it, saying, “we never asked to purchase drugs; people came up to us offering drugs ... all we did was stand there like patrons listening to the music."

During the raid, a team of more than 30 officers swooped in on the 45 acre church facility, causing many concert goers to drop their drugs and flee into the surrounding forest.

Police arrested 21 people on charges ranging from simple possession to felony distribution and seized large quantities of marijuana, LSD, hash brownies, nitrous gas and hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Brooks said they found such a large quantity of drugs and drug paraphernalia that they had to use the state’s forfeiture law to seize two on site trailers, just to haul all the contraband back to the station.

Church founder, Willie Pritts, won the right to hold concerts after successfully arguing that his church worshiped through music; this was the 5th concert held this year and it was attended by an estimated 500 to 600 people.

Rev Larry Newell, a pastor with the church, says that the raid was political and that the community has never accepted the church. He vowed to fight what he called an intimidation attempt, continuing with a planned concert event for the next weekend and in federal court.

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