The Liberty Bell Four: Smoke Down Prohibition Federal Trial Updates

The Liberty Bell Four: Smoke Down Prohibition Federal Trial Updates
420PANO

4/20/13 Smoke Down Prohibition rally

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 12/12/2013

PhillyNORML – www.phillynorml.org

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein 267 702 3731 chris(at)phillynorml.org or NA Poe napoe0(at)gmail.com 

Event: Court Hearings: Poe sentencing 12/13 – Byrne Federal Courthouse 6th and Market 10:30AM – Judge Perkin
Dezarn and Goldstein trail 12/19 Federal Magistrate Court Byrne Federal Courthouse 10:30AM

The Liberty Bell Four: Smoke Down Prohibition Federal Trial Updates

Philadelphia - Sentencing hearings and trials continue in federal court this month for members of PhillyNORML and The Panic Hour concluding a remarkable year of protesting federal cannabis laws.

Smoke Down Prohibition gatherings at the symbolic site where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed have been the only regular protest of federal cannabis policy.

Comedian NA Poe will be sentenced on Friday December 13th at 10:30AM for his arrest during the Smoke Down Prohibition X marijuana legalization rally in May at Independence Hall National Historic Park.

Poe was tackled to the ground and jailed for six days in the Federal Detention Center after leading a countdown and lighting a joint as a civil disobedience action at 4:20PM . He has spent the past six months on pre-trial release with a special ban from the park. Poe now faces up to two years of probation with possible restrictions on his unique expressions.

Supporters will hold signs in front of the courthouse: https://www.facebook.com/events/1488043578088025/

Political activists Chris Goldstein and Don Dezarn are being put on trial by the Eastern District of Pennsylvania US Attorney after being cited at two separate protest events while keeping up the monthly cannabis action. Their trial begins on Thursday December 19th at 10:30AM. Both were cited in June and again in August after taking a few puffs of a single joint. They face the only federal trial for simple marijuana possession in recent memory.

There are more than 750,000 marijuana possession arrests each year but only about 7,000 on federal property. Aggressively prosecuting the pair may result in an interesting case surrounding marijuana and the First Amendment.

The case may have an impact in Washington and Colorado where marijuana is now legal under state laws but authorities have vowed to doggedly enforce prohibition on  federal land.

Dezarn is being represented by George Newman Esq. and Goldstein is represented by William Buckman Esq., both are renowned civil rights attorneys. Legal defense fund: http://www.gofundme.com/sdp420

PhillyNORML Co-Chair and US Marine Corp Veteran Mike Whiter will represent himself in Federal Magistrate Court on 12/19 over his first cannabis citation. Poe, Whiter, Dezarn and Goldstein have been dubbed the “Liberty Bell Four.”

Smoke Down Prohibition protests began as consistent, monthly gatherings in December 2012. The crowd assembles at an outdoor area of the park designated as “The People’s Plaza” within sight of the Liberty Bell, The Constitution Center, The First Presidential Mansion and Independence Hall. The hour-long events have always been publicly announced weeks in advance. The rally has been very consistent with forty-five minutes of speeches, music and comedy then fifteen minutes for a brief civil disobedience action.

Dozens of notable marijuana reform advocates have given spoken at SDP protests including : PA gubernatorial candidate John Hanger, Retired Philadelphia Police Captain Ray “Occupy” Lewis, National NORML Board member Diane Fornbacher, Neill Franklin from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), Jim Miller and Ken Wolski RN from the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey (CMMNJ), registered NJ medical marijuana patients Jay Lassiter and Rowyn Capers, Pennsylvania hemp advocate Les Stark, NJ state legislature candidate Don DeZarn, activist Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion and many more.

On April 20, 2013 more than five-hundred people peacefully gathered for the rally; hundreds participated in civil disobedience and then easily disbursed. Video: http://youtu.be/twa9_7_a_c4

From December 2012 until April 2013 the National Park Service Rangers showed tolerance for the group and there were no arrests or citations.

Then on May 18, 2013 there was a sudden shift in law enforcement action against the assembly. More than one hundred National Park Service Rangers, Philadelphia Police, SEPTA Transit Police, US Fish & Wildlife Officers and heavily armed Department of Homeland Security Agents surrounded the event. The US Attorney (federal prosecutor) set up a processing tent and stationed Deputy US Attorneys on site. Dozens of participants were tackled to the ground and aggressively detained on 5/18 simply for the act of lighting marijuana joints. Video: http://youtu.be/LZxH_GozkY4

Undeterred by the encroachments and actions by law enforcement personnel the protesters bravely returned each month since.

Participants showed a strong commitment to peaceful, non-violent action by continuing in a civil manner. The massive, multi-agency police response to the small group of marijuana advocates has re-appeared in June, July, August, September, October and November. Approximately 30 citations have been issued since May by Park Rangers.

Smoke Down Prohibition XII will be announced next week. Participants look forward to celebrating a full year of action to reform America’s unjust marijuana laws.

CONTACT: Chris Goldstein 267 702 3731 chris(at)phillynorml.org or NA Poe napoe0(at)gmail.com