Remember that whole sordid story from last year with the guns and the cocaine that Kink.com CEO Peter Acworth hasn't been able to live down? Well, never one to keep quiet about things, Acworth has issued a lengthy statement about his arrest and the subsequent dropping of charges against him, admitting how privilege enabled him not to end up like some of the other, lower-income individuals he saw in the holding cell the night of his arrest.
And, perhaps as a way of countering the charges of those Pride weekend protesters who were apoplectic about Kink hosting a prison-themed party on that equality-focused weekend, he's hosting an event tonight that will benefit the Three Strikes Justice Center. Acworth says, "As someone who was given the benefit of strong legal counsel, and had access to that top tier, I feel it’s my obligation to help those who didn’t."
Say what you will about Acworth, or his business, but it's a bold and pretty upfront move. He essentially admits his guilt in the situation, in which he and at least one friend appear to have been discharging weapons one night, doing target practice in the basement at the Armory, and uploading video of it to YouTube. A neighbor alerted the police, and Acworth was subsequently arrested and charged for possession of a gram of cocaine.
As Acworth tells it:
As with any arrest, the experience was completely terrifying. I was taken in handcuffs to the local station and transported to the downtown jail for processing. The first indication that I was in a privileged situation came when I picked up the phone in an attempt to get bailed out. Rather than having to explain my financial situation, I was greeted with a friendly response “Ah Peter, your lawyer is already in my office.” Bail was arranged and I was out by 5AM.
The people in the cell with me were mostly people of color, mostly poor, all terrified. Since I had, in fact, been caught with the cocaine on my person, my inclination would have been to plead guilty. But my lawyer immediately advised against it. ”We can fight this.”
And we did. It turned out that while the police did their job, there were technical problems with the arrest (there were insufficient “exigent circumstances” to void the need for a warrant to enter the premises.)
But how would I have fared if I were poor, confused and dependent on an overworked public defender managing dozens of other cases, for a fraction of what my lawyer made for one? Watching the legal process, I was struck by all the advantages I had. At each court hearing, my case was heard first. My lawyer was able to present our legal opinion in the judges. I was able to pay for research and briefs that made our arguments more effective. Eventually, the case was thrown out. My reputation was bruised, and I was humiliated but not incarcerated.
So, if you'd like to hang out with Acworth at the Armory Club (1799 Mission at 14th) this evening and donate to a good cause, you can do so from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Admission is free, but it looks like an advance ticket is required. A portion of the cocktail proceeds will go towards the Three Strikes Justice Center's efforts to "raise awareness and represent prisoners for a chance at new beginnings."