Pubdate: Sun, 07 May 2000
Source: St. Petersburg Times (FL)
Copyright: 2000 St. Petersburg Times
Author: Jeanne Malmgren, Staff writer Linda Gibson contributed to this report
Note: MAP Newshawk/Editors John Chase and Steve Heath both had made 
speeches and participated in TV and radio interviews. They left for the St. 
Pete MMM before the 'march on the courthouse' began, so saw none of this 
action. The TV evening news showed only the few seconds at the courthouse 
just before
the arrests. Steve's radio interview will probably run on Monday.


Undercover Officers Move Swiftly To Arrest People Who Police Said Were 
Smoking Marijuana Publicly.

TAMPA -- A pro-marijuana rally erupted into a confrontation between police 
and demonstrators Saturday afternoon in front of the federal courthouse in 
downtown Tampa. Nine people were arrested, one after a scuffle in which 
Tampa police officers restrained a suspect on the ground, enraging the 
crowd of protesters.

About 60 demonstrators marched several blocks from Lykes Gaslight Park to 
the courthouse, in an event billed as "Cannabis 2000: The Millennium 
Marijuana March." Similar rallies were held Saturday in 100 cities 
worldwide, including St. Petersburg.

For two hours the Tampa protesters had been listening to live music and 
browsing among vendors of hemp goods and tie-dyed clothing at the park, 
which is next to the Tampa Police Department. Then they marched down 
Franklin Street, carrying banners and chanting slogans in favor of 
legalizing marijuana.

At the courthouse, they stood on the steps and listened to more speeches.

Four Tampa undercover officers were in the crowd. As they moved to arrest 
people who allegedly were smoking marijuana, squad cars pulled to the curb. 
The crowd began jeering and moving toward the street.

Those arrested included four juveniles and five adults. Most of them were 
handcuffed without incident. One protester tried to break free and was 
subdued after a struggle with four officers, during which the protesters 
shouted angrily.

"It's never okay to smoke marijuana. That's the law and we're going to 
enforce it," Tampa Police Sgt. Tom Wolf said later Saturday.

As the police cars drove away with the suspects, one of the demonstrators 
grabbed a megaphone.

"Anybody know why this happened? And how to keep it from happening?"

The crowd bellowed the answer: "Change the law!"
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MAP posted-by: Jo-D