HEMP BC RAIDED YET AGAIN
On September 30, 1998, Hemp BC was raided yet again by Vancouver
Police. At about 6:30pm police officers entered the store and ushered out
all staff and customers.
A crowd quickly gathered in front of the store, as employees
sat in the street to block traffic.
Hemp BC owner Sister Icee was searched and the money in
her pockets was confiscated. All of the money was also taken out of the
till. In total, about $10-15,000 in merchandise was seized.
Local residents Seus and Daniel came to the store with
video cameras and began filming and interrogating the police. By the end
of the night there were at least 40 police there, some estimated as high
as 80 officers in total. Dozens of police cars and motorcycles were parked
all over the area.
officers guarding Hemp BC.
The police presence and people in the road stopped buses
from getting through. People got off the buses, and one eyewitness estimated
that “about 60 people” from the buses joined the crowd of onlookers and
Local activist David Malmo-Levine soon arrived on the
scene and organized the crowd to sing songs and peacefully protest the
David Malmo-Levine leading a stop-the-raid sing-along.
Seus and David Malmo-Levine then went around the the back
alley door of Hemp BC. David found a broken TV and a discarded armchair
in the alley, and used them to block the alley door from opening. He then
had a seat and began reading out loud from the arguments in his current
appeal against his earlier charges of trafficking through the Harm Reduction
David blocking off the alley door, sealing police inside Hemp BC
The police were unable to get through the door, and so
had to go all the way around to physically drag David off of the chair
and to force the small crowd out of the alley. Those with cameras were
shoved and threatened with arrest.
David returned to the front of the building, where someone
had found a back-alley couch and had placed it on the sidewalk in front
of the store.
David sat on the couch, along with Hemp BC employee Chris
Hill. Former employees Ian and Tracy sat on the back of the couch.
Police officers dragging peaceful protestors off of their couch.
Although the couch was not directly impeding the officers
from invading Hemp BC or carting out its goods, the police wanted a large,
clear area around them, and so police asked Tracy to move away from the
couch on the sidewalk.
Tracy ignored the police officer, and so, according to
eyewitnesses and videotape, police officers grabbed her and body-slammed
her onto the concrete. Another cop put his knee on her back and pulled
back her arms for the handcuffs. She was then dragged away.
Tracy being held by police.
David Malmo-Levine was being held and hugged by Chris
Hill. Police were trying to pull David from the couch but could not, so
one officer punched Chris in the kidneys three times, until he finally
let go of David.
David described the cuffs as “torture devices, like pepper
spray. They dig the cuffs into your bones, causing seething pain makes
you want to comply.”
Video footage shows David being dragged by his handcuffs
about 30 feet along the sidewalk. He described this as “an excrutiating
‘please stop now’ kind of pain.”
Cops laughing while David and Tracy are tightly handcuffed.
More than 24 hours after the raid, David still described
his hands as “tingling and numb.”
During this time Seus went to the small grocery store
across the street and bought some eggs. He came out and people took the
eggs from him. He returned to the store for more eggs, came out, and put
the eggs down on the ground. Although Seus did not throw any eggs, some
eggs were thrown. Anne Drennan and a few police officers were allegedly
hit with eggs. After yelling at the cops with eggs at his feet, Seus was
suddenly assaulted by between 5-8 undercover officers.
The police did not identify themselves, and Seus resisted
going with them. They tried to force him into a paddywagon but he used
his feet to almost walk up the side of the truck as they held him. They
threw him on the ground and then tried again, but they still couldn’t get
him into the truck.
officer choking Seus into unconsciousness.
One officer then grabbed Seus by the neck while other
cops held Seus. The officer held Seus’ neck tightly until Seus passed out.
When he went limp they applied handcuffs and leg-cuffs to the unconscious
Seus. Eyewitnesses describe how the cop who strangled Seus continued to
hold his head tightly against his chest so that he couldn’t breathe and
would remain unconscious.
Seus being tossed into the police wagon.
Once Seus was in the police vehicle he was driven to
the nearby police station. Seus described how, still dazed and having trouble
breathing from his attack, he was forced to hop from the van to the booking
room, under threat of being dragged by his cuffs if he didn’t.
Seus fell unconscious during the booking process, and
he was rolled around, searched and questioned while unconscious and semi-conscious.
After being held for two hours, Seus was released into
an ambulance where he was taken to St Paul’s hospital.
Media coverage of the raid was fairly substantial. VTV
gave live coverage of the raid, and it was the lead story on all local
news that night.
Hemp BC opened for business immediately after the police
left, and opened the next day as usual.
Vancouver Police spokesperson Anne Drennan was on the
scene, and she justified the raid by telling the media that “We have, in
the past, dealt with situations where there has been major trafficking
of marijuana seeds from these locations, and that’s something we feel very
Of course, Drennan didn’t mention that marijuana seeds
have not been sold from Hemp BC for over seven months, since Marc Emery
sold it to Sister Icee. During the last April 30 raid there was no evidence
of marijuana seed sales. Hemp BC does not sell marijuana
seeds, and neither does the Cannabis Cafe.
This kind of misinformation is typical of Anne Drennan,
who is the subject of a lawsuit from Sister Icee. Anne Drennan has previously
told the media that marijuana buds are sold at Hemp BC, and that underage
youths smoke marijuana there. Yet neither Hemp BC nor the Cannabis Cafe
sells marijuana, nor do they allow it to be sold on the premises. They
also have a strict “over 18” policy.
More information will follow. Check back for updates and
Video footage of the raid can be obtained through Hemp
BC or Cannabis Culture Magazine, and should be online within a week.
Contact these people to express your outrage:
Mayor Philip Owen: [email protected]
tel: (604) 873-7621 — fax: (604) 873-7685
Vancouver Police Department: [email protected]
tel: (604) 665-3081.