A Boulder activist was arrested this week after refusing to leave a meeting at the public library that was organized by advocates of a statewide marijuana legalization initiative. Michael Corey Donahue, 28, was booked into the Boulder County Jail on suspicion of trespassing and using fighting words with a police officer. The incident began at about 7 p.m. Tuesday after members of a coalition — including the Colorado chapter of NORML and Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation — convened an instructional meeting for volunteers who are circulating petitions.
The group is working to place an initiative on the November 2012 ballot that seeks to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. The coalition has also been hosting training sessions in Colorado Springs, Denver and Fort Collins. Donahue said he went to the meeting at the Boulder Creek Room at the main library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave., after receiving an invitation to the event online. Donahue is an active proponent of marijuana legalization but said he opposes the efforts led by the coalition because the measure it is pushing would be only a limited legalization of the drug. He is instead hoping for complete legalization of marijuana for adults 18 or older.
According to a police report made public Friday, a private security guard called police and said a man was refusing to leave after members of the initiative group said he was causing a disturbance. When police asked Donahue to leave, he refused several times and was then arrested. An officer wrote in the report that Donahue became verbally abusive. Donahue said Friday that he had every right to attend the meeting, and he denied causing a scene until after authorities tried to kick him out. “Obviously, it’s a public library,” Donahue said. “I have every right to be here.”
The activist said he was “calmly” discussing ideas for amending the initiative to make it stronger when he was asked to leave. “I said, ‘I’m not leaving; they’re discussing a constitutional amendment,” Donahue said. He acknowledged calling the arresting officer lewd names after being arrested. Donahue said he spent the night in jail before being released Wednesday on a personal recognizance bond. He said he’s considering taking legal action against the city for the arrest. Robert Chase, who runs the Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers in Denver, said Donahue shouldn’t have been kicked out.
“The organizers might well have been leery of him being there,” Chase said. “They (the city) had an obligation to permit him to stay.” Jennifer Bray, a spokeswoman for the library, said the Boulder Creek Room is required to remain open to anyone, regardless of which group reserves it. Groups can reserve the library theater for private events, she said. Bray said the city is still investigating the incident. Officials refused to release an incident report drafted by the private security guard. It was not immediately clear from the police report who else was in attendance at the meeting. The Camera could not reach officials with NORML or SAFER for comment late Friday afternoon.
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