Pubdate: Sun, 22 Jul 2012
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: Demian Bulwa


Obama Fundraising Visit Draws Pro-Pot, Antiwar Activists

Oakland may be a proven bastion of support for President Obama, but 
his planned visit to the politically charged city Monday is expected 
to lead to the first major downtown protests in months.

Medical marijuana advocates are staging what will likely be the 
biggest rally as they urge Obama to halt a Justice Department 
crackdown on dispensaries. Antiwar activists are coming, too, lending 
energy to the barrage of criticism that Obama has been taking from 
the activist left.

If the president wanted this kind of attention, he picked the right 

Among East Bay stops on Monday, Obama is set to appear at a 
fundraiser that starts at 4:30 p.m. at the Fox Theater, which sits on 
the edge of Oaksterdam, Oakland's unofficial cannabis district, on a 
block where Occupy activists have clashed with police.

Between the rallies and street closures related to Obama's security, 
the downtown area may be tough to negotiate. Some businesses that 
fall within a Secret Service perimeter will have to close for the evening.

Police, who are beefing up their presence, urged people to avoid the 
area or use public transportation.

"Expect delays no matter what," said Sgt. Chris Bolton, chief of 
staff to Police Chief Howard Jordan.

He said he wasn't worried about political protesters causing trouble 
but about others hijacking their events.

"If there are problems," Bolton said, "they will be with those small 
groups that have historically caused acts of property damage and violence."

BART said it planned to keep all stations open while running longer 
trains throughout the day to accommodate a potential surge in riders.

Pro-pot rally

California NORML, a lobbying group trying to reform marijuana laws, 
obtained a city permit to demonstrate in the plaza outside City Hall 
from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The group and others are angry that federal 
authorities have, in the past three months, taken action against two 
Oakland dispensaries that are among the most influential in the state.

Stephen DeAngelo, whose Harborside Health Center is contesting the 
government's move this month to shut it down, said the dispensary is 
helping to bus in supporters for a "patients' tribunal" at noon and a 
3 p.m. march.

"We're doing everything we can do to get the president's attention 
and ask him to keep the promise he made to us on the campaign trail 
to not use federal resources to circumvent state laws on medical 
marijuana," said DeAngelo, whose dispensary is believed to be the 
largest in the nation.

Melinda Haag, the U.S. attorney in San Francisco, said last week that 
Harborside's size made it a target.

In April, federal agents raided and shut down a dispensary, school 
and other properties connected to Richard Lee, the founder of 
Oaksterdam University and the state's most active proponent of 
marijuana legalization.

Antiwar forces

A group called Afghans for Peace is asking people to come downtown 
for an antiwar protest, with a rally outside City Hall at 3:30 p.m., 
followed by a march toward the Fox Theater. The group did not have a 
permit as of Friday.

Occupy Oakland protesters have announced no specific plans but said 
they may join other protest groups.

"Obama made a lot of promises and spoke a big game in his campaign to 
become president. He used language and concepts familiar to the 
radical community," said Occupy activist Lauren Smith, 30, of 
Concord. "But what he did when he got into office was decide to be 
the great compromiser. ... People feel really betrayed."

The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the 
planned protests.

But at an Obama campaign office near the Fox Theater, volunteer 
Dianne Lyles said the president had great support in Oakland because 
of "what he is doing for the average American."

The Fox event sold tickets from $100 to $7,500. Also on Obama's 
schedule Monday is a fundraiser at the Piedmont home of real estate 
developer Wayne Jordan, one of his top fundraisers, and a 
technologyrelated event at a place to be determined in the East Bay. 
Both cost $35,800 per person, the legal maximum for a donation.

The East Bay has long been an Obama stronghold. In the 2008 
California Democratic primary, which Obama lost to then-Sen. Hillary 
Rodham Clinton, his highest vote among all congressional districts 
was the one represented by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland.

Lee said the president's handlers knew what they were doing when they 
scheduled a campaign stop in the city.

'Supporters here, too'

"They know we're involved in many, many movements, and people have 
the right to free speech," Lee said. "People have the right to free 
speech and exercise that free speech as long as it is lawful. But 
people should know that President Obama also has a lot of supporters 
here, too."

Doesn't hurt

UC San Diego political scientist Samuel Popkin, a former consultant 
to five Democrat presidential candidates, said he didn't see an 
"obvious negative" to Obama being targeted by protesters.

"Having distance from the anti-capitalist left and pro-pot left does 
not necessarily hurt him," Popkin said. "Suppose the Tea Party 
attacked Mitt Romney for being a centrist. That's not all bad."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom