UTICA, N.Y. (AP) — A no-knock raid in upstate New York over the weekend is sparking outrage and demands from protesters for increased regulation of so-called ghostbuster groups.
“We didn’t even call,” says Audrey Hoprey, a mother of two living in Utica. “They just barged in and zapped grandma.”
Hoprey’s story echoes what is being described as a wave of aggressive, militarized ghostbusting vigilantes sweeping the country.
“They were in black, masks on with proton packs lit up, yelling for us to get on the ground.”
She says her pleas for the return of her grandmother’s incorporeal form have fallen on deaf ears and insists she never reported, nor minded her haunting.
“We’d get spooked from time to time but she never meant to hurt nobody.”
An investigation by the New York Times last year uncovered a growing trend of heavily armed ghostbuster units popping up in cities across America.
“One in every twelve homes in America are haunted, but only six percent of those hauntings are described as ‘hostile, malicious, and/or unsettling'”
-“To Bust a Ghost”, New York Times, 2015
During the final years of New York City’s “original four”, new exterminator companies with names like “Ghouls-B-Gone”, “Haunt Hunters”, and “Ghostdusters” began springing up in a wide range of states. Thanks to weak regulation, these start-ups handle dangerous equipment and routinely lack proper training in ghost enforcement. Observers say they are becoming increasingly militarized as war-veterans and police flock to ghostbusting groups, bringing with them specially armored vehicles and superior tactical training. Industry watchdogs have also noted a sharp increase in defence contractors cashing in on this lucrative new market.
An incident in a quiet Madison, Wis suburb last winter drew national attention and raised concerns about the need for increased industry regulation. Two engineering students were atomized after allegedly crossing neutrino streams in their garage workshop. The pair were assembling their own proton packs using instructions obtained online and were planning on starting a small ghostbusting business to pay off their student debts. New legislation restricting the use of unlicensed particle accelerators saw a heated debate in Congress but was quietly gutted in the senate.
Now, a spree of high profile ghostbusting incidents have lawmakers reexamining their stance amid intense public scrutiny. The trapping of Wayne Clutz, a former theatre actor reenacting his final moments on stage every midnight, and the violent purging of an abandoned senior’s resort in Florida, are just a few of the reported incidents sparking a movement to protect America’s vulnerable translucents.
“Most cases today are entirely unprompted and are not backed by proper paperwork. The practice is absolutely destroying precious landmarks,” said Colleen Peters, director of the non-profit Homes for Haunts. “It’s ruining the tourism prospects for many American small towns.”
Homes for Haunts connects wandering spirits with the decrepit, long forgotten corners of the country and is now the top anti-ghostbusting lobbyist in the country. Peters says even the term, ghostbusting, is derogatory in nature. Ghosts are recognized as having some rights still afforded to them, like in decisions regarding a will. However poltergeists do not receive any legal protection, and Peters says this loophole is being exploited.
“If I knew my grandfather was suddenly going to bestow his earthly possessions to my brother during a bout of sleep paralysis,” Peters said. “All I have to do is say he startled me. The ghostbusters can mark that down as a poltergeist and there’d be no one left to dispute the claim.”
Protests are expected to continue this week in ghost towns across the country. But past demonstrations have been a big draw for traveling ghostbusters. One parapsychologist described a protest in Terlingua, Texas last month as a “turkey shoot.”
“Ectoplasma still sells well on the black market,” said the ghostbuster, who spoke on condition of anoninimity. “Paranormal researchers, private collectors, even museums, will go under the table for a valuable historical figure. I know guys staking out the Capitol Building, Barbee Hotel, other places like that waiting on a big payday.”
The ghostbuster in question would not give us access to any of his captured ghosts for a statement. Requests for statements this paper made through oujia boards, dank underground passageways and rundown tenement hallways that stretch into infinite voids, went unanswered. Though no single ghost would comment, a collective of spirits trapped within an IBM 5150 PC on the abandoned third floor of our office building provided this statement.
“G E T O U T“