Phish concert yields (only) 13 drug arrests

Asheville police made 13 arrests in connection with the June 8 Phish concert, all involving drug charges. In an e-mail, police spokesperson Melissa Williams emphasized that the massive crowd (more than 10,000 people) “was mostly peaceful and caused no major problems for police.” And City Council member Carl Mumpower, who’s attended past Civic Center shows in search of illegal drug activity, also sent out a missive praising the event as “fun, safe and managed.”

Cuffed: A concertgoer in handcuffs as police make arrests outside the Civic Center before the June 8 Phish concert. Law enforcement called the event “mostly peaceful.” Photos by Jason Sandford

Ecstasy, marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms were the most common substances cited in the arrests, though cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, ketamine and Adderall were also mentioned. Most of those arrested were from out of town, hailing from New York, California, Colorado and Washington, among other locales. None of the arrests took place within the Civic Center.

“For having 10,000 people, we had a really excellent night, and the Phish fans behaved really well,” Williams wrote.

After dropping by a 2007 RatDog/Bob Weir concert, Mumpower fired off an e-mail complaining that it “smelled like an Amsterdam hash bar.” At a Widespread Panic concert a few months later, concertgoers mocked him by holding up cardboard cutouts of his picture in front of their faces. Mumpower’s crusade even gained national attention, with Glide Magazine‘s music blog making light of his account of the RatDog show.

This time, however, the City Council member was pleased with both the police and the concert, as he relayed in an e-mail written shortly after the event.

“In a nutshell, I was impressed,” Mumpower wrote. “It was apparent that city staff, our police, event security, the promoters and the vast majority of those most important to a successful event, the Phish fans, were on their game. The atmosphere was fun, safe and managed. The arena was not overwhelmed by the smoke of cigarettes or pot, and it was evident that most folks were trying to do their part and respect the facility’s rules. … Tonight, Asheville’s Civic Center smelled more like City Hall than an Amsterdam hash house.”

Phish cometh: Inside the Civic Center, an audience of thousands cheers their heroes.

He also praised the arrests, noting, “I appreciate our police officers’ persistency in defining Asheville’s Civic Center, public spaces and downtown as a place you can come to have fun, but not a place you can freely sell and use drugs.”

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