The jam band Phish staged a four-night run at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden culminating in an epic three-set concert on New Year’s Eve. However, before the band took the stage on December 31, the NYPD had already arrested at least 228 people outside MSG.
According to the New York Times, uniformed and plainclothes officers were out en masse, targeting concertgoers. The vast majority of arrests were drug-related with ticket scalping and public urination making up a very small portion. One man, who sold psychedelic mushrooms to an undercover cop, was busted with 424 caps of MDMA, 71 strips of LSD and 14 bags of ‘shrooms.
However, marijuana was the cause of many of the arrests even though possession of up to 25 grams of pot is decriminalized in New York State.
Several New York-based fans were left wondering if this show of force from the NYPD represented the last throes of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s administration. Bloomberg notoriously presided over the darkest era for marijuana smokers in New York City, during which New York became the pot arrest capital of the world.
On January 1, mayor-elect Bill de Blasio took office and Bloomberg sailed off into the sunset – no doubt on a gilded yacht. After the fiasco of the Bloomberg-backed stop-and-frisk program, which precipitated NYC’s skyrocketing pot arrests as officers forced suspects to reveal concealed pot and then busted them for marijuana in “public view,” de Blasio has promised to restore sanity to the city’s drug policing policy. He has promised to end stop-and-frisk.
While New Yorkers remain hopeful he will keep his word, the Bloomberg era ended with a boom – and many a bust – that resulted in a very unhappy New Year celebration for hundreds of Phish fans.