Criminal briefs bring Homeland Security to downtown Kansas City.
The Vegas Line
You’ve probably read the story. Agents from Homeland Security raided Birdies Panties and confiscated merchandise. Birdies is a modest, two-woman lingerie shop located in downtown Kansas City.
Kansas City is excited about the Royals finally getting back to the World Series. So, the women created panties with a rendering of a king’s crown and the phrase “Take the Crown” printed on their bottoms.
Then came vigilant agents from Homeland Security, claiming store owner Peregrine Honig infringed on Major League Baseball copyrights. The agents took possession of the criminal panties, placed them in a Homeland Security evidence bag, and insisted Honig sign a statement saying she wouldn’t use the logo again.
First thought: What’s Homeland Security doing raiding a lingerie outlet? Second thought: Must be nice for MLB to have Homeland Security protecting their copyright unto the last loincloth.
Figuring the ladies had been interviewed to death, I ran down the man who put print to panty. Eric Lindquist owns a one-man print shop (Lindquist Press), three blocks from Birdies.
I reached him by phone, wanted to know how things were going. Lindquist said, “I think a lot of people assume that because guns were drawn and I was cuffed...”
“WHOA. WHOA. WHOA! I’ve never read that. Take me from the beginning.”
Lindquist said, “Agents met me on my way to a café next door to Birdies.” (Undercover officers wanted to know if Lindquist printed the panties.) “I said, ‘Yeah, we’ve done a bunch of projects in the past...’ He cut me off and says, ‘Well, I’ve got a project like that. Do you want to meet?’ I said, ‘I’m really busy. I don’t think I can get anything done if it’s Royals related. I’m planning on leaving town tomorrow.’”
I laughed. “So, he’s thinking, CRIMINAL mastermind flees jurisdiction.”
“Right,” Lindquist said. “So, I went back to my studio, checked Birdies Facebook page, noticed they had posted a photo of their underwear in an evidence baggie, immediately freaked out, and tried to piece together what might have led to that.”
“The cops haven’t come for you yet?”
“No. I’m twiddling my thumbs wondering if I’m next. So, I go out to the front porch and while I’m sitting there that same guy comes up. He’s still in character, pretending to be a potential client, said something about going inside to look at some samples. I said, ‘I know who you are. I have nothing to say to you.’ Then he pulled out his badge. I said, ‘I don’t know what to do at this point. I think I’m supposed to ask for a warrant.’ He took that very poorly, explained I was in serious trouble and faced potential fines up to $250,000 and/or six years in jail. He said I had broken copyright law. Then, my neighbors approached, advised that I should stop talking and go inside until we could figure out what was going on.
“When I stepped back outside, probably a half-hour later, that’s when they spotted me. There were additional officers at that point and they said, ‘He’s out,’ and quickly approached me reaching for their firearms. Not to target to me, but in anticipation of breeching the door.
“I was, like, ‘What’s going on? Where’s your warrant?’ And they were, like, ‘Out of our way. Take him.’ And that’s when I was cuffed. They proceeded past me, cleared the area and then emerged, uncuffed me, and explained what my options supposedly were.
“Two agents were in the dumpster, another six in my space, and another two were securing the building out front. They told me it could go one of two ways: I could insist or resist a search by demanding that a warrant be delivered there. If that was the case they would need to confiscate anything related to printing, which is, basically, my business.
“I didn’t feel I had much choice. So I did sign a piece of paper saying they had permission to search the premises. I had recently been in Ferguson, Missouri...”
“WHOA. WHOA. WHOA! What were you doing in Ferguson?”
“Some friends and I, other printers and artists, visited as a group. The first day we mostly hung out in the parking lot making stencils. We prepared some designs to print on T-shirts using a linoleum block and a car. And I put together a petition, cranked out 1000 of those.
“We assembled a gallery show that ran in my studio. [When Homeland Security raided my space] they were surrounded by pictures of police dragging people off...”
Despite a thorough search by ten Homeland Security officers, no Birdies Panties paraphernalia was found. Lindquist reports most officers departed on good terms.