“Let me see your search warrant,” I said. I was a first year law school student and knew my rights: they couldn’t enter without my permission or a search warrant. (I also wanted to give everybody inside, especially my sister and the Voyage House staff, enough time to make sure they had ditched any and all contraband.)
“Out of the Way!” this burly cop hollers and charges up my front stoop to knock the door in. By then paddy wagons were starting to show up and I was the first one hand-cuffed and put in the back of a wagon. Every single party attendee got arrested. They even ran out of paddy wagons; I heard on the police scanner, “We’ve got over a hundred to bring in, we need additional transport.”
When they finally brought the keg out, the Woodstock crowd cheered and laughed. Later on I learned that there was no contraband to be found because everyone had enough time to smoke all the weed on the roof top before the cops got to the last arrests. So one and all were having a grand time joking in the sardine-packed paddy wagons and then at police headquarters, 10 or 12 to a cell. Everybody except me; my future at Voyage House being uncertain, much less my future in law school.
The first thing I did once we were all locked up (they gave me a private cell where I couldn’t talk to anyone), was ask to call my lawyer, which they let me do. The Board Member who doubled as the Voyage House lawyer answered his phone. He came right down. “Listen,” I said to him, “I don’t care what they charge me with, or how long they hold me – just try to get all these kids out without any charges.” To his great credit, and my ever lasting gratitude, that’s what the lawyer was able to do. I was released early the next morning charged with Keeping a Disorderly House and Underage Sales to a Minor.
The Voyage House Board never took any official action against me because the staff stuck up for me and explained this was actually part of being a successful streetworker, but the Voyage House lawyer said I had to get my own lawyer – he didn’t do criminal work, and besides, he wasn’t very sympathetic. This led to my getting to know David Kairys and David Rudovsky, two of Philadelphia’s greatest lawyers of all time. Mr. Kairys was able to get me in the Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition Program, and after I kept a clean record for a year, all charges were dismissed, and the law school didn’t kick me out either.
P.S. Fred and her friends made it home safe and sound, not too late to need parent explanations, and forever talk about what a great time they had.
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