Police Raid HempBC Again!
By Dan Loehndorf
December 17, 1997
Just after 4:20 pm, on December 16, police stormed into HempBC, the Little Grow Shop and the adjoining Cannabis Caf?. Police cleared everyone out. A crowd of pot enthusiasts slowly gathered around the front doors of the caf? and HempBC as police guarded the doors sheepishly.
The police raid was obviously a coordinated effort of the police, as between 30 and 35 police officers and the police spokesperson, Anne Drennen, were on the scene. Accompanying her was a city business license
inspector. The authorities were intent on closing the store one way or another.
As David Malmo-Levine rallied the crowd to shout such slogans as "Don’t Waste our Time, go Fight Real Crime!" and "Help, Police, Theyre stealing our Store!", Marc Emery strolled from the front doors.
First Marc moved as though to kiss a police officer, who shoved him back and nearly to the ground. Marc was unshaken. "HempBC employees will be back at their jobs tomorrow morning!" he said, then he began to walk from officer to officer, chastizing them one by one, "… and I have a job I can be proud of, not like this fellow."
The crowd agreed. For hours they stood in the pouring rain questioning the ethics of the police for busting a harmless hemp store. Guilt was written on the faces of many of the officers.
Then the paddy wagon backed in and things got ugly.
Mr Malmo-Levine was circulating in the crowd, helping to organize a peaceful blockade against police who would be soon leaving with HempBC stock. The police grabbed Mr Malmo-Levine to arrest him, twisting his
arm and pulling his head back by the hair. They beat him, then scraped him along the road to the paddy wagon. A HempBC employee, Ian Roberts, held on to Malmo-Levine and had the boots of three police officers put to his neck. Then the police sprayed Mr Malmo-Levine and Roberts with mace, and threw them both in the van.
Marc Emery was directly beside the violence. "My only option was to protest this violence against my employee and David Malmo-Levine. I spat on an assaulting police officer, knowing they would focus on me and address me. They did, and threw me into the paddy wagon. I stood up for my employees in the least aggressive way I could think of while still making a firm point.
Police tackled Marc, one officer grabbing him by the throat. They threw him against the paddy wagon before placing him inside. A Vancouver Film School student crossing the street at the same time, and unrelated to the demonstration, was thrown to the asphalt by police and also treated to excessive force.
Sister Ice, the manager of the store, and Hilary Black, the founder and director of the Cannabis Compassion Club, were also assaulted by police. The two were demonstrating peacefully in front of the doors when police attacked. Rushing from the front doors, officers grabbed Sister Ice by the throat and Ms Black by the breast, and launched them backwards several feet. Police obviously considered choking throat holds and sexual molestation to be appropriate uses of force against peaceful protesters that night.
Even after the arrests of Mr Emery and Mr Malmo-Levine, the crowd continued to collect around the store, chanting and berating the police.
Late that night, at around 1:00 am, moving vans, hired by the police, shuffled into the back alley, and police began to throw breakable stock into the back of the two trucks, which reverberated down the alley with
the sounds of shattering glass and twisted metal. Hydroponic displays, which supported the lives of basil and tomato plants, were viciously removed. The power cords were cut in a manner exactly like a professional burglary. HempBC employees estimate that $200,000 in seeds, $120,000 in grow equipment and $100,000 in paraphernalia were taken by police.
"Youre, thieves … look at you … youre nothing but vandals!" shouted Sean Price, manager of the Little Grow Shop, from behind the barricades. His mother stood beside him in support.
Jerome Williams, a lawyer, was on the scene and commented that police action against Malmo-Levine was "… clearly an assault. That amount of force was clearly not necessary to arrest Mr Malmo-Levine." He also has
questions about the warrant, which was made out for the address of HempBC, but not for the address of the Cannabis Caf?.
Police spokesperson Anne Drennen attempted to justify the use of violence by claiming that "someone", supposedly the film school student, had first attempted to grab one of the officers guns. None of the
eye-witness reports, video footage or facts verify Drennens claim. Additionally, no charges were laid in the matter, although the student was held all night in jail.
Police justified brutally tackling and falsely arresting Marc Emery because of a bogus outstanding warrant for a minor municipal by-law infraction earlier in the year. He was at the Vancouver West-End Community Centre handing out pamphlets about the governments attempt to regulate harmless medicinal herbs like St Johns Wort, Sage and Horsetail. They arrested him for "assault by trespassing" because they were worried that he might properly educate children who frequented the area.
Police asserted that Mr Emery had "failed to appear" in court for the minor infraction even though a court case never took place: the charges had been dropped. Andrea Turton, of the HempBC legal assistance centre,
notes that legitimate charges have still not been laid against Mr Emery.
Employees at HempBC remember when, in January of 1996, police raided the store in an attempt to drive it out of business. Afterwards, police spokeswoman Anne Drennen claimed that there would be no further action
against HempBC until the stores owner, Marc Emery, had his day in court, to decide the legality of selling seeds. Mr Emerys day in court is yet to come, and Ms Drennens promise was a lie.
Sergeant Dykstra, whose name was on the search warrant, recently issued a similar statement in a CNN documentary on HempBC, last fall. "Do you perceive it as a big enough problem for us to close it down?" he said, "When people are being knifed, murdered and mugged?"
Later in the CNN interview Sergeant Dykstra added that, "You’d have to be a real dope to think that we’re actually improving the situation. You’re never going to stop people from using psycho-actives. By doing
so, all you’re doing is building up criminal empires. Al Capone and the boys got their start with prohibition of liquor."
Whos the dope now?
According to the Vancouver Sun, police claim that Marc Emery was "… inciting a crowd of nearly 250 to storm a police barricade". The barricades were never "stormed", nor did Emery at any time encourage the crowd to do so. Even when the flimsy police tape fell at their feet, protesters remained behind it.
Other false police claims include a report that the squad seized a whopping $1.5 million in seeds. A statement which reeks of the exaggeration often used by police to inflate their cases.
David Malmo-Levine was arrested on similarly suspicious charges. He was ordered, as a condition of release, to sign a paper requiring him to refrain from using amplified sound at a protest. He plans to use amplification equipment at a protest at the court house on February 9. According to Mr Malmo-Levine, "the police issued a formal apology to protesters at the APEC demonstrations for ordering them to do the same." Canadian citizens have a constitutional right to peaceful assembly and non-violent protest and cannot be denied it by the courts.
Davids wife, Christine Theurer, was also at the protest, and saw her husband being brutalized. She observes many similarities between police violence levelled against APEC protesters at UBC and protesters at HempBC. Including the use of mace and unnecessary force. "They are still reacting to their APEC training," she notes.
The raid was the last day of a search warrant issued under section 462.2 of the criminal code, which makes it illegal to sell cannabis literature or paraphernalia. The warrant had been issued in June. The warrant ended
the night of the raid, bringing into question the legality of police occupying the store past midnight. Charges have yet to be laid against Mr Emery in connection with this latest bust.
An undercover officer had been at the Cannabis Caf? earlier in the day and had "simulated" smoking marijuana using a vapourizer. Vapourizers are advanced harm-reduction technology for pot smokers, and are provided by the caf? for its customers. The undercover officers visit was the official pretense for the bust.
The next day, December 17, the store was open and ready for business. The shelves have been restocked with bongs, pipes, seeds and other hemp products. The Cannabis Caf? and Little Grow Shop were also open for business, as usual.
After The Raid The Next Morning
Pictures of the bust
Police stealing all our stuff, definately a Moving Experience (181 K)
Cops attack David Malmo Levine and Ian (261 K)
A little later, Dave and Ian in the back of the wagon (265 K)
.Marc outside the store talking with the police and crowd during the raid (217 K)
A little later, Marc in the back of the wagon. (190 K)
The Bust in the Media
SHOW YOUR SUPPORT
Please show your support for Hemp BC and cannabis culture by coming down and buying some seeds, bongs or other fine hemp merchandise. You might also just want to raise awareness by communicating to others in your communities.
Video footage of the demonstration can be obtained from Dan Loehndorf, Assistant Editor of Cannabis Canada, at 669-9069 ext14.
At this difficult time Hemp BC needs your support. Hemp BC regularly donates thousands of dollars to help legal challenges like those of Chris Clay, Lynn Harichy, Randy Caine, and many others. We will gratefully accept donations by cash, cheque or money order, made out to Hemp BC.
For more information on how to contribute, call Andrea Turton at the HempBC Legal Assistance Centre at (604) 669-1832. Those seeking legal assistance should also contact Ms Turton. HempBC can be reached at (604) 681-4620. The
Little Grow Shop can be reached at (604) 681-4690. The Cannabis Caf? can be reached at (604) 801-5656.
CONTACT THE POLICE
The Vancouver police should be told that it is a waste of resources for them to be raiding HempBC, and that their raids are morally innappropriate. They should be reminded that they have other priorities and that the Canadian and Vancouver public do not support their thuggish behaviour. They can be reached at: (604) 665-3081. Their email address is [email protected]
CONTACT THE MAYOR
The Mayor of Vancouver is Philip Owen. He has insulted Hemp BC in the media many times, and the police department would not raid Hemp BC without his support and blessing. He should be reminded that Hemp BC is an important asset to Vancouver, and that most Vancouverites are strongly opposed to this kind of brutality being inflicted against peaceful marijuana users.
Mayor Owen can be reached by email at [email protected]
He can be reached by telephone at (604) 873-7621 or (604) 873-7273, and
faxed at (604) 873-7685 or (604) 873-7750.
The Mayor’s mailing address is:
Vancouver City Hall
453 W 12th Ave.
CONTACT OUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
Hedy Fry is the Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre, where Hemp BC is located. She should be urged to support Hemp BC because it is an important part of the community with tremendous local support. She should be reminded that Hemp BC was raided because of vicious laws like Bill C-7 and section 462.2 of the Criminal Code, which are not supported by the Canadian people.
Hedy Fry can be telephoned at (604) 666-0135 or (613) 992-3213, and faxed at (604) 666-0114. Her Parliament address (postage free!) is:
Room 558-D, Centre Block
House of Commons,
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6.
Her Vancouver address is:
106 – 1030 Denman St.,
Vancouver, BC, V6G 2M6.
CONTACT THE MEDIA
It is also extremely important for you to contact local and national media to inform them of your opinion of this brutal and pointless behaviour by Vancouver police. We have provided the address and email for Vancouver’s two major papers, so please take a minute to send them your thoughts right now.
Contact the Vancouver Sun newspaper at:
Letters to the editor
200 Granville Street, Suite 1
Canada V6C 3N3
email : [email protected]
Contact the Vancouver Province newspaper at:
Letters to the editor
200 Granville Street, Suite 1
Canada V6C 3N3
email : [email protected]
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Everyone at Hemp BC thanks you for your support in this difficult time. Rest assured that we are still in business and we will not rest until the archaic and destructive laws against marijuana are completely removed from Canada’s criminal code!
To read about what happened the last time cops raided us, click here.