May 2nd 1998 New York City

For the last 27 years, The first Saturday in May has been Joint Day -- in Washington Square Park park,
where thousands of pot smokers rallied in support of re-legalization of marijuana and hemp. 
The event this year sponsored by Cures not Wars was massed across the street,"It's '1984' in 1998,"
 lamented Dana Beal, the organizer of the pro-marijuana march,Vince Strautmanis, remembered coming
to the park for the annual marijuana rally when he was a student. "It was one
big cloud," he said, . "It was like Woodstock."

A formidable police presence of at least 100 officers in standard blue and in disguise highlighted the clashing cultures being displayed. A police sergeant took one look at a sitting youth wearing a mushroom around his neck, and told him: "Battery Park!"

I was some what amused by the variety posted signs saying no drugs, no drinking, no biking, no skating. "Quiet Zone." and even doggy doo doo law in effect. Yet I noticed that the couple dozen mounted police had neither pooper scoopers or diapers for their horses which did publicly defecate all over the place...

Dana Beal, who said his march was dedicated to "all the people who are feeling the sting of the crackdown in Greenwich Village," works out of a building that once housed a hippie boutique on the ground floor. He and his supporters staged a marijuana rally in the park every year beginning in 1973 -- each time with a permit, except last year, when they held what a city spokesman called "an illegal assembly." Robert O'Sullivan, of a neighborhood group called Parents for Playgrounds, said "I told them straight out, 'We don't want you coming into the park,' " O'Sullivan also said. "They talk about free speech, but what they want is a pot-smoking party. We don't want people drinking alcohol in the park, either." Lord forgive the clueless...

Eventually we (about 2000 or so ) took the long march down to battery park passed dozens of
paddy wagons and police cars which seemed to be at every corner. We were flanked by the massive police presence and frequently literally fenced in .. As Donald Silberger wrote to me
"We were all menaced by the weapons on the hips of the cops who corralled us like sheep, from Washington Square Park to Battery Park" and also "We are surrounded by armed police who are "escorting" us as if we were cattle to be driven hither and thither...
What I wasn't really prepared for the fact that it was a march about four miles or so .. two and a
half hours in the blistering sun... At times I felt like a prisoner of war being marched to my destiny. Frequently when they stopped and corralled us people lit up joints and blunts I didn't have any but a friendly soul shared a couple hits ... thanks Diane When we arrived at Battery Park 68 people's destiny was the mobile arrest unit they set up for this special occasion. Several of the Marchers turned out to be undercover cops (they had the best signs) they arrested anyone they thought they saw smoking during the march.

"Go ye forth and bring us back a million people," Beal told supporters.
He said he planned to apply to use the Great Lawn at Central Park for next years event.

I left as the music began an took my very tired legs back up Broadway to where I had parked.
On the way back to my van I noticed that the sidewalks looked so much different street vending had been set up adding to the flavor of the village... apparently local merchants are so brain
washed they figured those mad marijuana smokers would over run their tables and rob them blind... Upon my return I checked the Cures not Wars Page and found I have been immortalized marching down Broadway...

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