I began Saturday, May 2nd at 5:30 a.m. when my friend Samar Lovejoy called
me to wake my fiancé and I up to get ready for the four hour trip
to New York City for the Million Marijuana March. I almost did not
get up; I was so tired and not looking forward to being squashed in a car
for four hours, but I could not miss my chance to represent State College,
Pa and all that I have worked for in the past
2 ½ years just because I was tired.
The ride was uneventful but all four of us in the car could not stop talking about what might happen once we arrived in NY City. Would Mayor Giuliani mace our peaceful protesters? Would the police push us and find the slightest reason to arrest us? Would we get there and no one would know what to do? None of us had been in NYC more than once, and the last time we were all visiting there, we could not have been more than nine or ten years old. Needless to say, we were very apprehensive.
We arrived in New York City around 11:30 a.m. and we had a hard time figuring out where we were to go, but it was a lucky thing I checked out the Million Marijuana website the night before and printed a copy of the immediate route the March was to take place. We weaved our way through the innumerable streets and sections of NYC, marveling at the gargantuan and mystical goings-on around us. As we neared Washington Square Park, I noticed several pro-cannabis clad youths walking away from the area so I asked them why they were leaving. It turns out that Mayor Giuliani had scheduled a "Children's Day" the same day as the March and police were informing some out-of-towners there was to be no Marijuana March. I was very upset and refused to believe that my compatriots would give up so easily. I kept on looking through the park and began to gather my wandering brothers and sisters, convincing them that this was a scheme to drive us away from our task at hand. After 20 minutes of searching, we found people for the March gathering across the Southwest corner of Washington Square Park.
The first person I saw was Stephan Gaskin from High Times magazine, whom
I had missed on his book tour for Cannabis Spirituality to my residential
town of State College, Pa. I quickly introduced myself to him and
nearly knelt at his feet in respect, but he would have none of that. He
was very nice and was passing out flyers for his magazine's POTZILLA party
on May 29th in NYC.
My party and I waited with Mr. Gaskin and the many others congregating from all directions and soon people who coordinated the March came up with their walkie-talkies and notified everyone of the marching path to follow and how to watch out for not only uniformed law enforcement, but also undercover police whom I later found out were infiltrating many protesters within the march itself.
After the march finally began, I saw many volunteers who had made their
own signs and flyers begin to pass them out to all and sunder. I
seized the opportunity and not only got a beautiful and artistic sign proclaiming
medicinal and spiritual value of cannabis, but I got a huge sign taped
to my back that had Uncle Sam saying," I've made you ILLEGAL; Turn yourself
in!!" I thought that it was really funny, but soon sobered up because it
has become so true in the "freest of all countries." We were so important
to Mayor Giuliani apparently because we had a police escort the whole way.
I have honestly never seen so many police officers in one place in all
my life. I thought to myself, " How many people are getting robbed
and killed right now, as these police are ‘serving and protecting' people
from the ganja smokers?"
All of us marched through the city on Broadway, which I had never had the pleasure of seeing. I saw so many different people marching with the protest who were African-American, Hispanic, Caucasian, and mixed all over the place. Not once did I encounter anyone who was cross or disrespectful. I cried several times when I heard many NYC youths proclaim that they " had never seen so many people get along at one time" and wished "every day could be this way." My heart was so very happy and sad as I walked the long way to Battery Park as heard these wishes. A few times, I just held strangers and cried with them as they told me their stories of persecution and friends imprisoned. I kept telling them all that we were doing this for them and all others who are not loved and understood by the very government supposed to care for us. I will never forget any of these hurt and betrayed people who felt they could open their lives to a complete stranger.
I encountered a celebrity whilst marching past the corner of Wall Street and Broadway. It was Warren Beatty trying to cross the street with his children but they had stopped to let the protesters go through. He was asking his children what they thought of the protest and I was absolutely frozen at the sight of him no more than five inches away from me. I shook his hand and told him it was so nice he could make it out today. He thanked me for marching and for not drawing any attention to he and his children. After I began to march again, I excitedly told my friends who I had just seen and while trying to point him out, I fell into a pothole and saw him laugh right before I stumbled away quite embarrassed.
We continued on down Broadway and I made my way to the forefront of the march, where the medical cannabis patients were marching. Every so often, they would stop the march and light up. No police stopped them. I chanted pro-cannabis phrases with them, many of which were quite poignant like, " Smoking POT is not a crime/ Why are patients doing time?!?" Others could not chant, they were too busy crying.
I am unsure what time we reached Battery Park, but when we got there, I spotted a NYPD "mobile arrest station," which looked like a HUGE mobile home complete with booking facilities and a long line of peaceful protesters who had been arrested by our men in blue. I have never seen such a stupid and unnecessary looking piece of machinery, but of course, I am sure it is Mayor Giuliani's trophy possession.
During the gathering in the park, we listened to many speakers and victims of the War on People waged by the U.S. Government. We also listened to medical marijuana patients who gave us their words of wisdom, encouragement, and gratitude. Again, I saw many people cry at the display of candor and compassion. Rastafarian bands echoed these words with music and everyone appropriately boogied on down.
After a few songs, I decided to meander over to the bay where I could see
the Statue of Liberty and shared some quiet prayers with her and asked
this great symbol of Freedom to smile down on us when lo and behold, plain-clothed
officers clad in pro-cannabis garb began handcuffing 20-30 protesters to
each other and sitting them all together on the benches. I quickly
grabbed my friend Samar (pronounced Summer) Lovejoy and our pro-cannabis
signs and began rattling off statistics to the officers and offering our
condolences to the arrestees. Samar asked an officer how it felt to take
a mere gram off the street while others were being murdered. I retorted,
" Don't bother those guys, they're just doing their job--they don't get
paid to think; they're just toy soldiers." The police became quite
annoyed with us and when a flyer I had been handed during the festivities
flew out of one of my pockets, the officer yelled, " If you don't shut
your trap, I'll charge you with misconduct and littering little girl!"
Begrudgingly, I picked up the paper for him and said, "Oh, I am sooo very
sorry, oh wise betrayer of America--shall I proceed to pick up all of the
garbage in New York as well?" He eyed me for a long time and continued
cuffing the other innocents. Samar was laying the facts on the officers
pretty heavy until the police finally asked us if we really wanted to be
taken downtown, so we laid off of them. A few arrestees thanked us
for making their arrests a bit humorous and lighthearted. My only
regret is that I couldn't bail them all out. As they and the officers
left, I imagined how painful it must be for the Statue of Liberty to have
seen innocent people arrested at her feet. I asked her to forgive
the ignorant, they know not what they do.
Soon after my experience with the Million Marijuana March, our party decided to head back to State College, Pa with a ton of signs donated by various protesters to take back to Penn State University's weekly high noon Smoke- Outs every Thursday at the Main Entrance Gates. We'll also use these souvenir signs at our 30-hour Smoke-Outs during the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts from July 9-12. We'll have activists from around the states to volunteer-host one hour each regarding their reasons for action and spreading knowledge of our government to deny freedom to recreational users and compassion to Medicinal Cannabis users. I hope to see all of you there as I did at the Phase I of the million Marijuana March. Until then, keep your chins up and your hopes HIGH--real HIGH!!
* HONEYBUD WEEDWHACKER is a 21-yr-old activist who has lived all over the country.She uses medical marijuana for clinical Depression, Attention Deficit Disorder, and Hypertension and yeah, JUST BECAUSE SHE LIKES IT! She is a freelance journalist, activist, and poetess. If you have any questions or comments, please contact her @: firstname.lastname@example.org . She would be more than honored to share stories and feelings with you...