>Bust Pot Smokers At Vigil for Lennon >From: News and Views | Crime File | >Sunday, December 10, 2000 >By RICHARD WEIR Daily News Staff Writer > >While John Lennon fans huddled in New York City's Central Park singing >songs like "Give Peace a Chance," undercover cops infiltrated the >vigil - giving pot smokers anything but a chance. > >Twenty people were arrested at Friday's vigil marking the 20th >anniversary of the ex-Beatle's slaying. One arrest was for selling >marijuana; the others were for smoking it in public view. > >Two other Lennon fans were issued court summonses, one for possessing >pot and another for an open alcohol container. > >But the marijuana busts were carried out with such stealth that even >organizers of the vigil, which ended peacefully by 2 a.m. yesterday, >had not seen or heard about them. > >"They took people in for smoking marijuana? That's crazy," an >incredulous Norman Siegel, executive director of the New York Civil >Liberties Union, said when he learned of the arrests yesterday from >the Daily News. "I was there. I didn't see anything." > >Of those arrested Friday, some were issued desk appearance tickets >while the majority were taken to central booking, police said. > >"I don't know why anybody would be shocked," Mayor Giuliani said. "It >is illegal in the state of New York and the United States of America >to sell marijuana or to smoke marijuana." > >"The people who were smoking marijuana were breaking the law, and >police arrest you when you break the law in America," he added. > >The Police Department used similar tactics in May when it arrested 312 >people for openly smoking pot during the Millennium Marijuana March in >lower Manhattan. > >"They do this now at cultural events," said Dana Beal, a marijuana >activist and organizer of the May march. "The police come in. They are >very low-key. They tap the people on the shoulder and lead them away." > >Like the May rally, police on Friday went through the crowd - >estimated by police at 1,000, but organizers say it was larger - >discreetly plucking marijuana smokers, some of whom had resorted to >lighting up in bushes. > >"I think it's overkill by the Giuliani administration," Siegel said.
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