Early on Thursday, July 27th, Ontario’s Hamilton police raided the Up In Smoke Cafe and seized all merchandise from the popular radical smoke-easy. After arresting employee John Anderson on Tuesday and Chris Goodwin and Stephanie on Wednesday, the police arrested Chris Lawson at the store during the raid on Thursday. Hamilton’s police have harassed the Cafe and activists relentlessly since day one.
Thursday’s raid ended in the seizure of about $20,000 in inventory: bongs, pipes, vaporizers, and other wares. Shirts, books and magazines were not taken, as they are no longer illegal. Seeds were taken off-site and orders will not be disrupted.
However, after this final raid, the result of a full-out declaration of war on Chris Goodwin and the Up In Smoke Cafe, it’s clear that some retreat is needed. There is no way for anyone to constantly survive the abuse that the Hamilton Prohibitionist Police have delivered.
As such, we regretfully announce that it’s certainly the end of Up In Smoke Cafe in Hamilton, Ontario, after nearly two glorious years of confrontational activism. Hamilton Police have been fanatical Nazi goons ever since the Cafe opened on the run-down main street in Hamilton, arresting and charging over 50 people in the Cafe for marijuana possession and marijuana distribution in under two years. Police have descended on the store over 200 occasions in 23 months to harass the “never-surrender” activists.
On April 20th 2006, the Hamilton Hash Mob -the nickname of the activists who worked or volunteered at the Up In Smoke Cafe- distributed over one pound of marijuana for free in front of Hamilton City Hall to celebrate the international marijuana holiday 4/20. Hamilton police, who did not interfere with the distribution, filmed this act.
The next day, April 21st, Hamilton police raided the Up In Smoke Cafe and seized all its contents. Goodwin, Spicer, Matt Mernagh, Lawson, and others were charged with numerous possession, trafficking, and paraphernalia offenses and given bail release conditions that forbade most from going to Up In Smoke Cafe and communicating with each other. Volunteers and new employees have kept the store going in the three months since that raid, and up to now.
Goodwin and Spicer were picked up near Toronto airport on Wednesday in breach of their bail conditions: either the one that forbid the two lovers from communicating or being with each other, or the ban on entering the Cafe to work (their only means of survival).
On Thursday morning, Chris Lawson was arrested at the Cafe as he prepared to open the store for business. His bail hearing will be Friday, July 28th.
Chris Goodwin has a bail hearing Friday, July 28th at the Court House on 45 Main Street West in Hamilton. He is currently being held at the Barton Street Lock-up. His charges from the past year are all going to be accumulated to determine a bail amount for his release- his lawyer Peter Boushy believes there’s a 50/50 chance of meeting bail. His chances of release are better if he agrees to close the location of Up In Smoke Cafe, as his time would be better spent outside of prison, working on a new activism approach and plan.
John Anderson pled guilty to three charges, and the other seven or so were dropped. He was released Thursday, and returns to court for sentencing on October 12th. The Crown is asking for 4 months, but Boushy – who is representing everyone – is requesting 60 days.
Stephanie Spicer got bail on Thursday after agreeing to plead guilty to pot possession (chocolate), stemming from the April 20th charges.