Medical marijuana petitioners booted from public property
January 1999

Perhaps law enforcement in Jacksonville could take a few lessons from GPD. This year's hempfest marked the first time in at least two years that there was no intimidating police presence on the plaza. The scene, on UF's Homecoming day, was pleasant and inviting, with good weather, good entertainment, and only a few officers visible, much like in the early days of the festival. There were no incidents at hempfest, unlike those common at UF football games. Our friends in Jacksonville, however, had a rough time a few weeks later trying to collect signatures for the medical marijuana intiative:

"As you may all have been aware we have been having numerous problems exercising our first amendment rights here in Jacksonville trying to collect petitions for our medical marijuana initiative for the year 2000.

"As the New Year's celebrations draw large numbers of people, we set up at the Jacksonville New Year's Eve happenings at the Jacksonville Landing, which was built, bought and paid for by taxpayer money, and supposedly leased to the Rouss Corporation by the city. The landing is a large area with numerous shops and restaraunts/bars inside, but there are two large open outside areas, one is a courtyard bordering the river and the docking slips maintained by the city of Jacksonville, and the other out front with city trash bins, parking meters, and numerous other city maintained structures.

"We were forcefully removed shortly after setting up a petition table in the large courtyard, when all of a sudden Landing management decided they wanted to add a beer booth right where we were located. They did not give us the opportunity to move to a suitable location. Instead we were verbally assaulted which seems to be the norm in Jacksonville, by Mr. Fernandez who claimed to be running the property at the time. Mr Fernandez said, "See what you stupid potheads do? You cause problems for everyone" when we refused to leave the premises, citing numerous street performers, and panhandlers on the property, advising Mr. Fernandez that we were assured by the Mayor's Office that this was public property.

"The police came and ordered us to leave, when we asked the officers to identify themselves for the record, we were handcuffed and told the only way we would get thier names would be on an arrest docket. We quickly submitted and told them that we would leave, we got the names of the officers anyway, and are planning to examine the lease agreement for its constitutionality. We have since been told we should have been allowed to stay by the City of Jacksonville. If you have a spare moment please write a letter to the Management of Jacksonville Landing and the Mayor Office of the City of Jacksonville asking them to please halt this pattern of content based censorship and violations of the 1st amendment.

Jacksonville Landing Management
2 East Indepentant Dr.
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Mayor John Delaney
117 W Duval St.
Jacksonville, FL 32202

Scott Bledsoe
Cannabis Action Network"

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