Haunted by the RNC

âÄúStop here,âÄù the riot cop shouted at his prisoners as he marched through the darkened corridor. His black boots thudded against the exposed bedrock beneath and the blue beam of his rifleâÄôs flashlight blinded his prisonersâÄô eyes as he pointed his gun straight at their heads. They were at his mercy as he forced them down farther into the corridor. This was one of the hyperbolized scenes played out in Substance at UMN âÄôs âÄúAmerican NightmareâÄù haunted house Saturday night. The haunted house and concert at the Dinkytown Oakeshott Institute raised money to support the RNC 8 with their court expenses and helped pay the debt from the Ripple Effect concert, which Substance held on the second day of the Republican National Convention. For $5 âÄî or free for University students âÄî concert-goers could get dragged, pushed, black-bagged and screamed at in the five-room police state basement of a Dinkytown church, led by 20 actors guised as badge-bearing tyrants. Then, after the abuse, the attendees listened to rock and hip-hop acts in the churchâÄôs atrium. Substance founder and event manager Jim Forrey admitted that his group meant to sensationalize real life, not portray specific, realistic events like the RNC and torture chambers around the world. âÄúI think what it does is it shows this is ridiculous, but this is the kind of [stuff] that actually happened,âÄù he said. âÄúTake this haunted house idea and do it as a scary dystopia idea of what a police state would be like if it was full-time,âÄù Forrey said about the idea behind SaturdayâÄôs event. The haunted house was a mixture of hyperbolized abuses âÄî uniformed actors pushing around protestors and interrogators threatening to saw off a prisonerâÄôs leg were some of the gruesome attractions. Erick Boustead , another Substance founder and University senior, said the haunted houseâÄôs theme flowed from events at the RNC and worked with SubstanceâÄôs aim of mixing music, art and progressive politics. âÄúWe were playing off the American dream, what we were seeing in America was the American nightmare,âÄù he said. âÄúWe realized we could definitely do a haunted house.âÄù One actor, Jesse Monson , an undeclared senior, said the haunted house and concert served a definite political purpose. The event was held to spur public debate on the issue of protest. But not all students agreed with the eventâÄôs purpose. Stephanie Anderson , officer for College Republicans, said she doesnâÄôt think the eventâÄôs negative attention is productive. âÄúI really donâÄôt think that making fun of the RNC is going to do anything,âÄù she said. âÄúI donâÄôt think mockery is the way to go.âÄù Organizers originally planned for a get-out-the-vote concert collaborated with the League of Pissed Off Voters, Friends of the RNC 8 , Democracy Matters and a booth from the secretary of state. But when the event expanded to include the haunted house, MSA gave the planners a $1,100 grant and the secretary of state backed out, Forrey said. âÄúIt was a little too racy for them,âÄù he said with a chuckle. The event raised $400 from spectators, and about 100 people showed up to see the four rock and hip-hop acts. Boustead said the event would help pay back the expense from the Ripple Effect concert, which left him and other Substance members with hefty debt. The concert, which gathered 4,000 protestors to the Capitol grounds on Sept. 2, was the spontaneous location for a Rage Against the Machine show. Boustead said if Substance collected any money above their debt, they would donate it to the RNC 8 to help defer the groupâÄôs court expenses. Max Specktor , a University student and one of the eight facing charges, said the court expenses will probably reach $100,000 before the dust settles. The RNC 8 plan on getting money from activists who won past lawsuits against the government, and also from small fundraising events being held around the nation, Specktor said. Forrey said the event was an attempt to bring politics back to entertainment, like the music of the âÄò60s and âÄò70s. âÄúEverything still does [have political undertones] as much as people ignore it, and we just try to emphasize that,âÄù he said.