CANNABIS CULTURE – The protesting started early this year for the Toronto edition of Global Marijuana March. Activist vendors set-up tables and tents sans permits throughout Queens Park. They were hawking a plethora of weedy wares, hemp seeds, BHO Candy and t-shirts – with many taking it upon themselves to distribute free water! Local superhero Bongman provided cookies n milk.
Activist groups took over picnic tables, staked their flags and socialized with people who many only meet with on first Saturday in May due to distance. Many of the early protest goers were out-of-towners, who wanted to make the most of the incredible pot smoking day.
There have been soggier Toronto Global Marijuana Marches and it rained off and on all day with the only bright moment in the forecast was when the sun came out (because mother nature loves pot protesters) from 420-430pm.
Before the start of the protest a Toronto Police Service bike cop yelled to the front of the pack, “Quick or slow I don’t care, I’m making over-time.” Protesting with peanick people has taught me, always go at your own pace, not the police pace because then you’re not protesting.
Every so often there are epic Toronto protests because the conditions both politically and the policing involved create perfect conditions for stalling. A very strong protest happened because protesters used peaceful non violent means to occupy Canada’s busiest streets for one hour and forty minutes.
Sick medical marihuana protesters stood bravely in the rain on the frontlines holding up Toronto’s busiest intersections just like any serious movement does. It takes fed up people – not a guy in a superhero outfit armed with a megaphone – to stand strong in pouring rain and say no we’re not moving.
We applied tried-and-true protester techniques in a non violent fashion – just like we do every year. People were going to get rained on in the park or in the streets, so why not stand in the streets smoking spliffs? It was about the time of the fourth spliff these fucking parade organizers, who have nothing to do with our street smokeout, threw a conniption.
The man is taking away medical marijuana gardens and mandatory minimums are the norm – now is not the time to be parading. Especially with floats with only come shop here messages.
People were having seconds, then thirds and for sum, a fourth Bloor St. session in front of Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Pottery Barn, when parade organizers began acting like The Man on legitimate protesters – who opted to go at their pace.
Instead of police taking their demands straight to the people who came to protest against prohibition, which police have done for the past several years, they sent parade organizers.
Who haven’t been part of the protest for three years.
Last year a group protested at their own pace on the first Saturday in May while a splinter group of paraders defied tradition and went on the second Saturday. I’m not sure why having abdicated the first Saturday to protesters, who this year spontaneously and organically opened a free marketplace, paraders in anyway thought they could dictate.
In 2012 their parade was scheduled for noon, while protesters successful convinced police they planned to march a two pm. Police rescheduled the parade to coincide with the protest – not the other way around. For years the power has belonged to the protesters.
Toronto Police Service have known there is a difference between the paraders and the protesters and usually keep an eye on the protesters. For the past several years police ask what the protesters plans are and this year while we waited for a parade to go through, cops used their bikes as makeshift barricades, and we prepared ourselves with banners.
We organized ourselves in protest fashion with protest banners used to keep people from getting run over by big trucks used as floats.
The officers greenlighted our protest efforts, but then parade organizers inferred our spontaneous organizing (which we’ve done three years running) was part of their permitted event – when it hasn’t been for three years. We’re lined up in protest formation and parade organizers convinced bike cops also in protest formation to leave.
Watching the replay on VCTV you see protesters are lined up behind banners with Toronto Police Service bike cops in full on protest formation. Officers gave protesters the thumbs up to move it out and we did, but parade organizers insisted we march at their pace – which is not going to happen.
Recognizing their mistake, Toronto Police Service sent parade organizers to ask protesters to be part of their parade. Years of protest experience has taught me, never leave the pack because parade organizers used the same words cops’ utter when they want to arrest a protest organizer, “Can you come talk to us over here.”
A tug of war between protesters vs paraders and police broke out. Police never asked if we were part of the parade and they assumed and were told we were, but we haven’t been for years.
We had the perfect opportunity to really hold the streets and the park, but most of the credit should be given to parade organizers who wrongly believed our protest march and marketplace were part of their permitted parade. It’s not. Hasn’t been for the past several years.