Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2000 Daily News, L.P.
Contact:  450 W. 33rd St., New York, N.Y. 10001
Author: Richard Weir and Salvatore Arena, Daily News Staff Writers


Cops arrested 312 people for openly smoking pot during the Millennium 
Marijuana March in lower Manhattan yesterday, locking up nearly one-third 
of the demonstrators.

Many of the arrests were made in Battery Park, where the march turned into 
a rally with bands and speakers, and where marijuana smokers were easy prey 
for plainclothes police dressed in tank tops and T-shirts.

"They went through very quietly, scooping people up, busting people here 
and there," said Jenny Hurwitz, 48, a graduate student from Manhattan.

After witnessing four men get discreetly handcuffed and led away, Hurwitz 
passed a note to a singer who was performing on stage that he read to the 
crowd, warning people about the arrests and to "be careful."

"It's totally outrageous," said her husband, Talbot Katz, 44, a computer 
programmer. "Years ago you could light up right in front of a cop and they 
would do nothing. That was pre-Giuliani."

But police said the arrests, while up from the 100 or so made last year, 
were not part of the recent marijuana crackdown. "Every year they march and 
every year we make collars," said Lt. Cory Cuneo, a police spokesman.

By police accounts, the event attracted 1,000 people at its peak, but 
organizers say the figure was in the thousands. Along the route, noisy 
demonstrators called for the decriminalization of the drug and an end to 
stepped-up pot busts by the NYPD.

Carrying signs that read "Treatment, not punishment," and "Legalize don't 
criminalize," the protesters moved under police escort along a line of 
march that stretched on lower Broadway from Houston St. to Battery Park.

Protest leader Dana Beal, a veteran activist, said the harsh tactics used 
by the police in Operation Condor have attracted many to the cause of 
decriminalization. The buy-and-bust operation was linked to the death of an 
unarmed man, Patrick Dorismond, March 16.

"We're having a lot more impact, and that's directly because of Giuliani," 
said Beal, founder of Cures Not Wars, which advocates marijuana's medicinal 
qualities. "They shot all these people and said it was all right, because 
they had drugs in their system."

One prominent marcher, Norman Siegel, the executive director of the New 
York Civil Liberties Union, said the Dorismond case has raised questions 
about whether cops should make arrests for possession of small quantities 
of marijuana.

"The war on drugs has not worked, and we need in this country to look at 
the decriminalization of drugs, or at least marijuana," Siegel said at 
Battery Park.

Demonstrators stopped briefly at City Hall to heckle the mayor's office. 
"We want to smoke weed. That's what we want to do," said Stephanie 
Rodriguez, 19, of the Bronx. 
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