9th annual Boston Freedom Rally

Sehlis and I left before the day began, with almost 500 miles to cover, we drove all night...

We arrived at Boston Common at around 10am. People were running around making those last minutes adjustments. We waited and watched for the rest of our group, who had driven up the day before. By noon about ten thousand people were about, as the music and speakers began.
We found our compatriots around one o'clock. Samar and Honeybud had their signs held high in the air and questioned why I did not! Of course I had my signs in the car, because you should never go anywhere with out your protest signs... So I brought mine out and soon we were a center of attention, "real protesters " always make for good photo opts.

By 3pm there was around 40,000 people rallying for the re-legalization of a herb that remains extraordinarily popular - and controversial. 'You wouldn't see all these people rallying around a heroin rally. This is something that people agree on. It was a diverse crowd of mostly young Americans, mixed with some well-lined faces, graduate students, and even two investment bankers expounding on how the decriminalization of marijuana use would help taxpayers who finance the ''War on Drugs.''

John Sinclair (subject of Lennon's song) was there. A longtime political activist, Sinclair was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being arrested with two marijuana cigarettes in 1969 and was one of the day's featured speakers. Sinclair was released in 1971 and founded the first organization to legalize marijuana.

For the most part, police and participants agreed that all went well, with about 62 arrests at day's end, nearly all for possession of marijuana. The only real complaint about the rally, was from repeat visitors who said weed, was harder to locate than in years past.

MassCann president Bill Downing, wearing a pig nose, was detained by a plain clothes officer whom Downing was following while making oinking noises.

Organizer Michael Cutler, who is the national director of the Voluntary Committee of Lawyers, said he was pleased to see older faces in the crowd, ones who he said have become legitimate voices in criticizing the use of federal and state funds to arrest and incarcerate young people who use marijuana. ''It is wrong for young people to smoke, yes,'' said Cutler. ''It interrupts adolescence, as does drinking. But you don't arrest them by the thousands. ''

Elvy Musickka, who is one of eight people who are legally certified by the federal government to receive marijuana for medical purposes, addressed the crowd, and later said that her prescription marijuana cigarettes had prevented her eyesight from deteriorating as a result of severe glaucoma. ''My message is that we must take responsibility for all the people who are putting themselves at risk to get the treatment they need,'' she said, recalling her search for drugs on the street before she was prescribed marijuana.

Late in the afternoon, right after a speaker finished when band started playing several Mosh Pits suddenly appeared. Being as I was one of the several thousand fans in the stage area, I was pushed with the surge of the crowd getting the hell out of the way. I was shoved hard and then struck with what felt like a baseball bat. I swung around to see a smiling punk who obviously hurt me on purpose. I thought to myself, it's their way of dancing and worked my way clear. When I got clear of the main stage area looking back across the crowd I could see there were only nine moshers, making all the ruckus. It was also quite clear that these moshers couldn't be stoners, no mellowness there at all, they had to have come for the music and violence. I realized quite quickly that my back hurt like hell. I had been assaulted, whether it's "their" culture or not. I made the decision the next time I get moshed I will return the favor with a short arm clothesline or a body slam. That's how my culture responds to a unprovoked physical attack.

Much of the day's education efforts came in the form of literature, comparing the effects of alcohol and its role in violent incidents to the effects of marijuana as a calming drug with medicinal purposes.

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