4,000 attend Hash Bash

BY ROB GOODSPEED AND JEREMY BERKOWITZ
Daily Staff Reporters
Published April 7, 2002

Despite limitations placed on vendors and cool temperatures, thousands of people gathered on the Diag for the annual Hash Bash celebration Saturday.

Charles Goddeeris
Ann Arbor resident Ed Frazier objects to getting arrested by seven Department of Public Safety officers for the possession of marijuana as he claims "I have done nothing illegal." More than 50 people were arrested by the Ann Arbor Police Department and DP
Charles Goddeeris
Ann Arbor residents and University students gather on the Diag Saturday afternoon, protesting in favor of legalizing marijuana at the 31st Annual Hash Bash Celebration.
[DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily]

The event brought local high school and college students together with marijuana enthusiasts from across the country, who gathered for an hour of speakers and music.

The participants filled the streets surrounding campus throughout the day.

Also present were over 15 uniformed Department of Public Safety Officers on the Diag, and Ann Arbor Police officers patrolling the area surrounding campus.

The agencies made more than 50 arrests Saturday, most for possession of marijuana.

DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said of 26 people arrested by DPS officers, only four had Ann Arbor addresses - and just one was a University student.

DPS arrested 22 people for possession of marijuana in the Diag area, one for providing a fake ID to an officer and three people were cited for skateboarding on University property.

The AAPD issued 25 tickets for possession of marijuana, 215 traffic citations and 934 parking tickets.

In Ann Arbor, marijuana possession is a civil infraction punishable by a $25 ticket. According to state law, which DPS enforces on campus, marijuana possession is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, and up to a $2,000 fine.

Attendees had mixed feelings about the nature and effectiveness of the event.

"I'd say that a lot of people come here for the atmosphere ... but there's a lot of political activism going on," Dan Sheil, an LSA sophomore, said. Sheil is a member of The College Libertarians, who organized a marijuana policy forum Friday night and collected donations for Hash Bash.

"There's definitely a large group dedicated to ending the drug war," Sheil added.

A variety of speakers addressed the crowd of approximately 4,000 attendees.

"We need to get together ... we need to legalize the weed," said Doug Leinbach, the manager of Rainbow Farm, where two men died in a standoff with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents earlier this year. "There's no other group they're treating like this."

Dan Selano, founder of Police Officers for Drug Law Reform, addressed the enthusiastic audience.

"We're tired of the issues arising from the war on drugs," said Selano, a former marine and retired Detroit police officer.

"There are many of us working on getting this issue turned into a health and education issue," Selano said. "Our job is to protect and serve - not to invade, steal and kill."

Noah Kramer, an Ann Arbor high school student, said he came to hear the speakers and show support for the legalization of marijuana.

"I think the prohibition of it is causing more harm than good," he said.

Corey Shope, a resident of Wayne who attended Hash Bash, said he believed Hash Bash was not effective.

"I believe in it, but I think (Hash Bash) is pointless," he said. "It attracts more attention, but it doesn't help legalize marijuana."

University students who attended the event had mixed reactions to Saturday's event.

"It's a lot of old burnouts. ... I'd like to see more students," Engineering freshman Mike Donahue said. Donahue added that he thought some of the speakers might hurt the event's purpose.

"(They) seem like a bunch of idiots. ... The guy on the microphone was saying the stupidest things," Donahue said.

DPS Officer Sgt. Hicks filmed and photographed the crowd and DPS officers. Last year Sgt. Hicks attended the event wearing a tie-dyed t-shirt, but this year he recorded the event in uniform. Brown said DPS documents large events for legal purposes and to protect officer's safety.

Although it was widely reported that vendors had been banned at the event, the city of Ann Arbor issued temporary vendor permits along East Liberty and Monroe Streets. Hash Bash organizers were also able to get a permit to close the portion of Monroe Street near Dominick's to use for vendors and entertainment.

Matt Ruhan, a vendor from Krazy Kats in East Lansing, obtained a permit to vend on Monroe Street.

"I know that there's a lot of vendors who couldn't get here," Ruhan said. "As long as (the vendors) are concentrated ... nothing would be harmed."