Ted Smith, a marijuana activist who runs a cannabis compassion club in Victoria, has also been giving “Hempology” lessons for six years. Right now he’s doing them on the front steps of Victoria’s City Hall, where crowds of over 200 people gather every week for his class. On June 6, eight cops showed up to bully his students.
“They said they weren’t acting on a complaint,” explained Smith. “They were just there to watch what was going on, and they didn’t like the fact that people were smoking [pot]in front of them.” Smith asked the crowd to stop smoking, and all but three police left the scene.
A hundred or so onlookers left as well, and not all that stayed were happy with the cops’ presence. Tensions escalated.
“There was a young person being sort of lippy, so the cops arrested him,” recalled Smith. “I tried to get between them, but the cops grabbed him from behind and then dragged him out and pepper sprayed him. Then the whole crowd came out onto the street. It was at that point that one of the young people gave him a hug and yelled to others to do a hug down.
“Six or eight people came and started to wrestle the police for that guy. The staff sergeant was yelling at me to tell the crowd to leave. My response was ‘no one heard you say he was under arrest, sir.’ I think it was at that point that he realized he was in a lot of trouble. More police came and wrestled him away from us and threw him in the van.”
The attack by police, far from throwing fear into the crowd, only created moral outrage. Frustrated officers, under the force of public censor, expressed their rage by randomly attacking a girl.
“The staff sergeant… went back to the group and grabbed the first person near him,” said Ted. “He took her around the side of the van. You can hear her scream on the videotape as they broke her wrist. Apparently they broke her wrist as they threw her in the van.”
The man who was arrested was in his early 20’s, and the girl who had her wrist snapped was only 17. Both were released from police custody the next day without charges. Videotape of the incident can be viewed at the hempology website.
? Ted Smith: tel 250-381-4220; www.hempology.yi.org