Gone, but certainly not forgotten

UPDATE: 07/30: Talked with Congressman Rick Boucher twice this afternoon. He is very upset over the way the Park Rangers treated festival goers and promises to call in the head of the Parkway and make it clear "that nothing like this can ever be allowed to happen again."  I've worked with Boucher enough to know that when he gets mad, heads roll. Stay tuned.  More to follow.

UPDATE: 07/30: Talked with Congressman Rick Boucher twice this afternoon. He is very upset over the way the Park Rangers treated festival goers and promises to call in the head of the Parkway and make it clear "that nothing like this can ever be allowed to happen again."  I’ve worked with Boucher enough to know that when he gets mad, heads roll. Stay tuned.  More to follow.

The National Park Service Friday recalled its overzealous Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT) and ordered them to return to Asheville, putting an end to the squad’s harassment of FloydFest patrons.  Virginia State Troopers now patrol the Parkway and provide enforcement until the festival ends Sunday.

Congressman Rick Boucher’s office received a number of angry calls Thursday and Friday about the Park Police’s abuse of power in stopping festival goers on the flimsiest of pretenses (beads hanging from a rear view mirror, a bolt missing from a license plates, etc.) and then searching the cars, luggage, back packs, coolers and other personal belongings.

As I reported earlier, one of these "officers" threatened me with arrest under the controversial USA Patriot Act when I tried to photograph his questionable search of a vehicle. I called Park Service administrators in Roanoke and Asheville Friday but got a firm "no comment" in return. I called Boucher’s office and was promised the Congressman "was checking into the matter."

The Congressman’s chief of staff called the Acting Chief Park Ranger and demanded to know what the hell was going on. By Saturday morning, the Rangers were back in Asheville.

The actions of the National Park Service left a sour taste in a lot of mouths, including Floyd County Sheriff Shannon Zeman, who was pulled over and harassed by the CIT unit Wednesday night.

Explanations are needed and apologies are due.

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4 Responses

  1. I was riding in a car that was stopped on Thursday. The officer was rude and abusive and ordered all of us out of the car while he searched through our belongings. He said he pulled us over because our backpacks in the back of our Jeep blocked our rear view mirrors. We had driven 500 plus miles to get within two miles of the festival and no other police officers along the way felt our view was blocked enough to stop us, including a Virginia State Trooper who followed us for about five miles on Interstate 64.

    He found nothing and did not issue a ticket but we were delayed for more than an hour and made to feel like criminals. No one in the car had ever been arrested before and I had never been subjected to such harsh treatment by a law enforcement officer.

  2. One of my friends was going 8 over and got pulled on the parkway. He was wearing a hemp necklace and the first thing the officer said to him was “nice necklace.” He then proceeded to tell him that he was acting a little “incoherent.” Needless to say, he was not on anything nor carrying anything with him, the cop was just probing for reasons to search him, which he did. It delayed him for nearly 30min. and it’s a really harsh way to start an otherwise fantastic weekend.

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