The extraordinary measures taken by University of Colorado officials to stop a large, annual pro-marijuana smoke-up on campus half-failed Friday, as hundreds of protesters still breached the campus’ closed borders and lit up in unison on a field outside a physics lab at 4:20 p.m. But the university succeeded in keeping the protesters off Norlin Quad, the centerpiece of campus where the gathering normally takes place. And the crowd for the event this year stayed small — several hundred participants and onlookers — instead of the 10,000 or more who have joined in the event in the past and smothered the area with marijuana smoke. CU police spokesman Ryan Huff said police made three arrests for trespassing and issuedtwo tickets, one for trespassing and one for pot possession. Last year, Huff said, police arrested five and issued 23 tickets at the event. By the end of the afternoon, with a light plume of smoke dissipating over the field near Duane Physics on a day marijuana enthusiasts call 4/20, CU officials declared the day a success. “I’d say that’s a lot better than having 10,000 people standing shoulder-to-shoulder for several hours,” Huff said of the smaller crowd size. “We took a really important step this year in curtailing this event,” CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. Protesters, though, scoffed at the idea. “It’s funny they thought they could try to stop us,” said CU student Audrey Campbell, who helped organize the protest but said she didn’t light up at 4:20 p.m.”They could be stopping crime right now,” said CU student Daniel Schwartz, another protest organizer, as he looked at several dozen police officers who stood by while protesters toked.
“But instead they’re watching us. What a waste of money.” No such clash took place at Denver’s Civic Center, where several thousand people gathered for the Denver version of the 4/20 rally. Police issued a handful of citations for marijuana possession, said Denver police spokeswoman Raquel Lopez. Supporters of the 4/20 rallies say they are shows of civil disobedience against what participants believe are unjust marijuana laws. In Boulder, though, students leaders and school officials have grown fed up with the event, which they say clogs campus walkways, disrupts classes and gives the school a bad name. Carly Robinson, one of CU’s student-government leaders, said the event draws numerous students who just want to watch, making it more of a spectacle than a demonstration. For that reason, Robinson said, the student government decided to stage a free concert by Wyclef Jean at the Coors Events Center, across campus from Norlin Quad. CU officials also took extraordinary measures to stifle the rally by closing campus Friday to outsiders and making Norlin Quad off limits to everyone. Students and staff had to show school identification to be allowed in. The university even sprayed a malodorous fish-based fertilizer on the green space. The total cost for the concert and the security is expected to exceed $250,000. The measures appeared to work for most of the day. The only people to venture onto the lawn were the three who were arrested for trespass, as they staged a sit-in on the grass. But shortly before 4 p.m., a crowd of several hundred pro-4/20 activists, both students and nonstudents, marched up Broadway, wound through University Hill and walked onto campus. Police did not try to stop them except to prohibit the group from entering the quad. After a couple of tense minutes, the protesters turned around and walked to the field near Duane Physics.
via : DenverPost
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