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Taiwan nightclub Pawnshop fights back against unlawful police raids

“The recent incident not only impacted Pawnshop directly but also underscored the law enforcement’s lack of trust in the local nightclub and underground music culture.”

  • Words: Henry Cooper | Image: Pawnshop Facebook Page
  • 30 August 2023
Taiwan nightclub Pawnshop fights back against unlawful police raids

Taipei club Pawnshop has revealed via social media that it has been subjected to police raids on more than eleven occasions within the last three months. The most recent one was during the venue’s monthly LGBTQIA+ event on August 27, where video footage shows police actively raiding the club.

During the raid, the police claimed to have found a bag with residue of the class C drug Cathinone.

Pawnshop says that it has maintained stringent security protocols since its inception in 2019. It also mentions that it will continue cooperating with police on the measures.

In a recent raid, Pawnshop claims their “special guest”, police chief Director Huo, led over 30 officers for an unannounced raid at the club's peak hours.

Pawnshop recorded and published a video of Police Chief Director Huo, who said: “Just keep filming. I’m very handsome, so it’s okay to record me. I will definitely show up tomorrow for the Hakone Hotspring event. An early notice that I will show up tomorrow. For those who are interested in the Hakone Hotspring event, be prepared to see us cops. And I’ll make sure to show up after 3:30 a.m. We’re all waiting."

Pawnshop claims they are unwavering in their "Pawnshop Zero Tolerance For Prohibited Substances" principle and "fully support law enforcement efforts in upholding the safety of legitimate businesses and citizens".

The most recent raid was not accompanied by a search warrant. Pawnshop has voluntarily consented to the last and all previous searches, during one of which trace amounts of Cathinone were discovered.

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This class C drug, Cathinone, is the active chemical in Khat and can also be produced synthetically. It was detected in a bag in residue amounts concealed within a crack in the wall. However, the amount was well below the 5-gram threshold for warranting penalties. In all instances, the police have identified Cathinone as the substance in question.

Recently, these raids have been presented under the banner of a new 'youth project’ implemented by the Da'an Police Department, which aims to shield young individuals from drugs, fraud, terrorism, crime, bribery, and violence.

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Local punters speaking to Mixmag Asia, and who have asked to remain anonymous, expressed concern about the increased presence of undercover police officers, as they have been spotted at numerous venues throughout Taipei. It is unclear if the raids on Pawnshop or on other venues are related.

Pawnshop conveyed; “The realm of electronic music should not be subjected to unwarranted scrutiny. The recent incident not only impacted Pawnshop directly but also underscored the law enforcement’s lack of trust in the local nightclub and underground music culture.” Read the full statement below, taken from the club's Facebook post.

On August 29, Pawnshop issued a statement through their legal representatives at Li Yuan. In the statement, the club asserted that the searches conducted were illegal due to the absence of consent and their occurrence during regular business hours.

Additionally, it highlights that law enforcement had earlier stated they would raid the Hakone Hotspring event, indicating a lack of justifiable grounds for initiating the inspections.

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This absence of valid reasoning led to a failure to meet the criteria of "reasonable doubt" required for such inspections.

Furthermore, Pawnshop claims that the executed searches were not only unauthorised but also unconstitutional, claiming that the police further unlawfully detained their employees at Anhe Road Police Station, infringing upon constitutional rights to personal freedom and property.

Mixmag Asia has reached out to Pawnshop for a further statement.

Henry Cooper is a Writer at Mixmag Asia. Follow him on Instagram.

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