Pubdate: Tue, 21 Apr 2015
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


London police get tongue lashing for enforcing law

Activists jeered police officers as they arrested a man at a
pro-marijuana demonstration Monday in Victoria Park. Around 75 people
gathered at the park for the annual 420 rally, an international day
celebrating cannabis culture and advocating for the drug to be legalized.

At 4:20 p.m., an unidentified man in a black leather jacket showed a
medicinal marijuana licence before sparking up a small pipe. The man
had hardly exhaled when police officers promptly surrounded and
arrested him, saying his licence had expired. That's when things got
tense. Some in the crowd hurled profanity-laced insults at police and
taunted officers as they led the man to a cruiser, searched him and
put him in the back seat. Organizer Eric Shepperd blasted the police
response, calling it "utterly absurd.

"It certainly wasn't necessary to be hauling a guy away for smoking
marijuana in a park, with or without a licence," Shepperd said. "This
is an approach by London police that's unnecessary and it simply
caused a commotion where none need exist." Authorities had previously
warned demonstrators there would be a zero-tolerance approach to drug
use. The warning came despite a plea from organizers to follow the
lead of police in other Canadian cities such as Toronto and Vancouver,
where thousands gathered Monday and openly smoked marijuana as
officers stood by. "Here in London, we enforce the laws of our land,"
Sgt. David Ellyatt said when asked why police arrested the man.

"At this point, he doesn't have a proper licence for possession,
therefore he was arrested and will be charged once the investigation
is complete."

About a dozen police officers, some riding bikes, kept close tabs on
demonstrators, who waved marijuana flags and held signs denouncing
Canada's pot laws.

Police also brought in a large mobile surveillance camera to record
the protest. "Nobody has any freedom here today," said activist Kevin

"We're the only city in Canada that cracks down on something that
shouldn't be illegal."
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