3 Days of Protest at the DEA Exhibit in Dallas

Discussion in 'Legalization and Activism' started by RMJL, Sep 25, 2003.

  1. An email I received from someone at SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) explaining how the DEA protests in Dallas went went.




    A little background:

    Weeks in advance of September 20th many of us planned our protest. We had a PR sending out press releases every week for about five weeks.

    Suzy Wills, director of a Drug Policy Forum of Texas chapter, had some excellent flyers made that elaborated how drug prohibition funds violent people, like Al Capone, Pablo Escobar, and Al Capone. She had also been trying to work with Fair Park, Science Place, and the Dallas Police Dept. to arrange for us a spot to demonstrate and pass out flyers near the Science Place. They were not very cooperative and didn't want to tell us where it was legal to protest. Finally, a week before our demonstration, the DPD said we would have to protest out in front of the main gate where cars were coming and going, because the State Fair, a private entity, had leased all of Fair Park, normally public grounds, for three weeks and they would not allow us to be there.

    Dallas Morning News published an article that tried to legitimize the DEA exhibit on August 25th "Terrorism's Terrible Costs" by and shortly after my response letter was published in the editorial section in the DMN's labor day issue: http://www.mapinc.org/letters/2003/09/lte4.html .



    September 20th: The protest started at 11am. The SSDP-UTD president and vice president, Austin Marshall and Rob Garcia, arrived early along with other members of the Drug Policy Forum of Texas. FOX News (Ch.4 in DFW) was also there waiting to interview me.

    We setup our 40ft long banner that read "DEA Has NO Place at The Science Place" (here's the pictures on our website) right in front of the Science Place until they told us to leave. I went ahead interviewed the reporters for a few minutes before SP and FP security and Dallas police arrived and told them we were here to counteract the DEA Propaganda Exhibit by saying our drug prohibition laws allows underground violent organizations to take advantage of unregulated drug markets pushed underground. Before long, there were about 5 or 6 police and security cars (3 of them were Dallas police cars, which stayed behind after we left) in front of the Science Place. Park security, plainclothes and uniformed police were gathering around us and telling us we would have to go outside the premises or we would be arrested. I rallied up everybody immediately and lead them outside, which I thought was a better position for our long banner. When we got out there, we were still nearby the Science
    Place at the intersection streets of Martin Luther King (how ironic) and Robert B. Cullum, and there were four cop cars guarding the gate and more cop cars across the street.

    At 11:30pm, I heard one of the demonstrators got in a 1st amendment mood and admirably refused to leave the front entrance of the SP and that he was about to be arrested. I didn't know who he was until he emailed us a few days later, because the first name he goes by was different from the name I was given by one reporter, whom I now suspect was a plainclothes police officer posing as LA Times press.

    Larry informed us that the police asked him if he was with the demonstrators and he told them that he wasn't because he didn't know any of us. He wasn't passing out flyers (we couldn't pass out flyers on Fair Park property because they forbid solicitation-which means your offering bystanders something), but merely standing in front of the SP wearing a "Stop the Drug War" t-shirt. He said it took them an hour to decide whether to arrest him. He ended up doing a night in jail before he got out on bail the next day, and having to pay a remainder of a $500 fine, which translates to $100 per night in jail time.

    The Science Place/Fair Park security and DPD were extremely antagonistic to all of us and our message. The police officer near the main gate threatened to get physical with one of the leaders of the UTA chapter for handing out flyers too close to entrance main gate and yelled out to her partner "I don't care if these people get ran over by cars." My mom stepped in and settled things down a bit and told her we would move further down.

    The Science Place staff with the help of the DEA doing security for the exhibit were confronting people and their families as they were walking up the steep stairs and entering the building. They started taking out of their hands the glossy flyers we gave them, and telling them they can't come into the Science Place with those flyers. One of the ladys with her children asked us for another flyer because she said she didn't get a chance to read it before they snagged it from her.


    We were furious at how we and their customers we're being treated. There taking our flyers from their hands just made them more curious and we had people asking us for another one as they drove out of Fair Park.

    (Before this all happened, we planned to keep the Science Place out of the crossfire between us and the DEA exhibit as much as possible, so that perhaps the DPFT would be able to work with them later on and propose setting up an exhibit on medical marijuana. However, we had no idea how much they were in bed with the DEA until last Saturday.)

    We stayed out there with our signs and banner from 11am to 3pm, and had six reporters from different news agencies covering our event (two of them were from spanish language channels: Telemundo and Univision). Later that night, I heard our protest was seen on 3 local channels and one did a 30 second segment on us (I believe that was the NBC affiliate). I'm not sure how many people showed up, but NBC online reported about 40 demostrators.

    September 22nd, 7 - 9pm: We protested the SP private fundraiser that Rudy Giuliani was to appear at and they had the main gate closed and people had to come in through a back entry way that we didn't know about. There was already another African-American group protesting nearby the NYPD police brutality against people of color that occurred while Giuliani was still mayor. African-American community activists were yelling bullhorns yelling out "No Justice, No Peace." and holding signs that said "Remember Abner Louima" (the Jamaican man that was brutally sodomized with a toilet plunger by NYPD officers). The respected community leader Al Lipscomb was also there to protest that issue. About five or six of them picked up our signs saying slogans such as "Keep Science, not DEA Propaganda, at the Science Place" "DEA terrorizes Medical Marijuana Patients" and "Terrorism is funded by Drug Prohibition." One of the cop cars blurted out on the loudspeaker "Just say no to dope."

    We were able to hang our banner over the gated fence and shined a bunch of flood flashlights at the SP and underneath our banner for all to see at the Science Place.

    It was the first protest where we had a people from the African American commuinty stand with us in a long time and I hope we can have such alliances in the future. There was a ton of police and park security at this event.

    September 23rd 9:30 - 11:30am was the premier ribbon-cutting event that was Giuliani was going to speak at. This time the public would be allowed to attend this function. There was a crowd of DPD outside the science place (about four times as many cops than were at our demonstration on the 20th). They had a police RV station setup across the street from us, one cop car parked on the median of the intersection, and three cop cars parked close behind. My mom and I were the first ones to show up with the signs and banner, then director of NORML Chapter showed, Suzy Wills from DPFT and a couple of guys that help run the SSDP chapter from UTA. I was able to borrow a camcorder for this event. As the police began videotaping all of us, I pointed it right at them to let them know that the rude harassment we received on September 20th wouldn't be tolerated today. On a few occasions they informed that some of the demonstrators that if they parked their cars on Fair Park property, their
    vehicles would be towed away. I told everybody to park across street.

    The highlight of the event was when Rudy Giuliani left quickly in his white limo, and we grabbed the stakes of our long banner and held it high above our heads victoriously as his police motorcade went on by. Later on we saw all of the people involved with the Science Place drive by wearing their suits and ties. Most of them would not even looking at us, but some of them would stop, shaking their heads increduously.

    Our protesting received nearly all of the news attention the past few days, and in the end the only press the DEA Exhibit received was one spot of the back page of the local Tuesday section of Dallas Morning News that just a picture of Rudy Giuliani standing in front of the DEA's 9/11 wreckage. This has got to be alot less propaganda than DEA had hoped for.

    Here's the list of upcoming dates and locations for the exhibit, so other chapters can prepare for it: http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/deamuseum/website/exhibitdates.html

    In the meantime, they have to put up with us til March 21, 2004 if they can last that long here in Dallas.

    --Craig
     
  2. o shit u live in carolltin i cant spell it but i live in arlington kinda far tho +rep
     

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