John Galt jr's closing speech at
Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts Smokeout 7/12/98
Hello, This is the last scheduled speech of our 30 hour smokeout, Since Dr. Heicklen could not be here, I asked for this time slot. I was going to prepare another long rambling speech, but Having addressed the crowd here nine times already.. for hour at at time... my voice has past it's prime. Nonetheless this speech will end up being the longest of the event. The police officials and art's fest representatives were worried about us having a protest here, they thought it would lead to trouble.
Before I really get into my speech I would like to address what happened here last night as I am certain that very few people know what happened between 1 am and 5 am. An officer told me the other day if we want an event covered the press will be there. If we don't they will not. This upset me greatly. However what happened last night was way too big to cover up, so just before noon the press began to release the story, after everyone would be out and about here.
Last night (Saturday July 11) there was a violent protest held in State College. It was reported to be and actually was a riot. This riot was the direct result of government oppression. I certainly can not condone the behavior of the rioters. The thought of of people engaging in full scale rioting makes me sick to my stomach. I certain that this situation was totally alcohol related. I am also certain that those rioting youths were not potheads, but your alcohol drinking future Republicans.
Art's fest like the Penn state football games are a time when people gather to party, Recent alumni, current students art lovers and locals all join together to party and socialize. Arts fest is the largest event in draw both people and money it is like Penn state's version of Mardi Gras...
I remember my first art's fest, there was a keg at every house, roads became huge sidewalks, There was fine art, free music and plenty of peaceful parties that went on thru the early morning some barely stopping before kicking in for the next day.
This weekend police attempted to bust up every party and large gathering of people's not at the art's fest. By setting up a clear adversarial relationship with the crowds assembled here authorities were asking for trouble.
They received it, according to my sources between 1:00 and 1:30 am police attempted to shut down every party in each of two large apartment buildings across the street from each other in Beaver canyon.
Hundreds of people most drunk, and most still ready to party poured into the streets. Someone began kicking a beer ball around and someone was hit by something that fell or was thrown from a balcony. A frenzy began the crowd was then fed by the closing of the bars, uncontrollable full scale riot ensued. Five men shook a light pole until it fell over and soon light poles were dropping like flies, beaver ave was closed and the area made semi secure, Bonfires were set in the street trees were torn down. Cars and store fronts were smashed. People still in the buildings began throwing furniture and trash from the balconies, those below used these materials to feed the bonfires.
State College Police called for reinforcements every on and off duty officer in the area was called in to assist. The rioters were dispersed using tear gas and billy clubs. One person told me you had to run because police were just grabbing people and beating the shit out of them.
I have been talking to people all day and some say said "So what would you have done?" Hey guess what I have an answer! Police should have made a presence in the canyon and used their spot lights to shine on the offending balconies and used a bull horn to ask people to go inside. If they had complied this would have prevented 95% of what happened. If they did not comply I think the proper response would have been to bring in the fire trucks and hose them down. Turning people into the streets is like pulling the plug in the middle of "wild horses ' at a Rolling Stones concert. The real danger here is legislating and policy First off it's Art's fest who were these parties bothering?
The parties next door?
They made an attempt to shut down house parties before the bars closed, what they did was fed the streets and set up disaster waiting to happen. This all comes from the continued growth policies of the local government and the university. State College doesn't only keep growing it is constantly pushed into growth just for the sake of the local economy. So as the authorities become more and more intolerant they keep adding more and more people to town. The university keeps getting more and more students.
The Jordon Center, Beaver stadium, Arts fest and many other events constantly bring in out of towners. add a healthy amount of intolerance and shake sooner or later you will get an explosion. In the next few days you will see the effects of the current explosion. The authorities will paint it as alcohol related and spontaneous. They will play down the fact that there were over a dozen officers present before and during the riot. These men did not do their job last night.
I had a very interesting talk with a couple of gentlemen yesterday afternoon. They said that the protest lacked cohesiveness and focus because we had signs from Medical Marijuana to Pot makes me happy. I explained to him that this was a loosely organized group based on anarchy rules no leaders, some followers. Most of the protesters were holding signs they made themselves, which focused on what they wanted to convey. The same was true of the speakers, would there have been any point in having 20 people say the exact same thing, making the same points?
Dr. Heicklen began these protests to further his cause in prison reform issues. I would be willing to bet although he is currently incarcerated, he his interviewing other inmates. People that as an "free" he would never be able to speak to as per prison rules.
Diane is here in support of medical Marijuana... She believes that what is medicine should be decided by doctors and the AMA, not by the lawyers in Washington
Samar is here for recreational uses. She believes that we as free people have the right to decided what to put in our bodies.
Charlie and Carla are concerned with the eroding constitutional rights issues.
Morgan and Zimmermen were here to plug their book Marijuana Myths Marijuana Facts.
The Libertarian speakers were here to represent the views of the Libertarian Party, which sponsored this event in part.
We all spoke out against Forfeiture and mandatory sentencing.
The common thread is Marijuana and the war on drugs as it pertains to Marijuana consumers.
My self I support all these issues. I do believe that marijuana should be legalized. I do believe that an informed citizenry can have the informed and responsible use of recreational drugs.
I support everyone who came out here and spoke and I thank them all, as well as all those who held signs or showed support in other ways.
I have mentioned that I have attended around forty protests so far this year. I found that anonymity was my friend. I would speak to individuals or groups of strangers, who's only possible prejudices would be concerned with my personal appearance. Protesting at an event this large in a place where I have lived for ten years has killed that anonymity. I have to tell you, I now know that people really do support the movement !!!
I was completely outed at work this weekend several dozen people, that know me made a point of stopping in to congratulate us on the success of our protests. In addition many customers whom I had never even met said Hey aren't you the guy who was speaking at the protest downtown? Good job !!! I have never shaken so many hands in one night... Every Single person was in support of what we did.
Even though it was extremely busy I managed to talk in depth with many people. I asked them why they didn't join us and hold signs, They had the standard reasons, I wouldn't want my family to see me. I don't want to end up on television, I was afraid I would be arrested. someone from work might see me. I know that most of you are for our cause, but you are afraid....
Now just what is it really that everyone is so afraid of?
The Police !!! and I don't blame them. I felt the same way for years,
They are afraid that the police will break down their doors, they are afraid the police will take their home. They are afraid that they will lose their jobs, their freedom, their future. You don't have to fear the police, I have had the pleasure of speaking at length with several different officers of the law recently. These men are doing their jobs. they have not only been watching us to make sure that we don't break any laws, they are here to protect us from those so intolerant that they can not accept that another that other people can have a differing opinion. They shout things like you should be shot, or if I had my way I would have you all shot.
They usually smell of liquor and /or have a huge chip on their patriotic shoulder about how they fought for freedom. Hey This is freedom, I thank you for providing it. These are the people we need to fear. The officers have been here to protect us from those who would resort to violence. What these people and the officers have in common is the laws. The laws are what we really fear. The laws can be changed, then those people will no longer have the excuse "that it's illegal" and they will have no leg to stand on.
You see you don't have to do pot to support the movement, However those who do are vulnerable to arrest. Most marijuana users have some sort of marijuana smoking Paraphernalia Under current laws you can be charged for just having the tools of the trade. An officer told me I could do two years for a roach clip. It has been ruled that they can confiscate your home if your have marijuana growing books !! People can write them, stores can and do sell them, But you can lose your home for owning one! They are afraid they will lose their freedom or their future.
on 1/09/97 Continental Airlines is sued a ex-wife of a pilot for "malicious wrong doing" which endangered the lives of its passengers. Her crime? Giving marijuana laced bread to her X, which caused him to fail a drug test and be fired. They have re-instated the pilot. If you choose to smoke marijuana, fail a drug test or get busted you are not allowed to be a pilot in this country. Is that pilot safe after he has partaken of the evil weed? This means, it only bars you from most future employment if you did it on purpose? Makes you wonder which they are judging the drug or the person?
This government sponsored fear is the result of the war on drugs only once I had given up the roads to riches did I have the courage to follow my convictions. In other words I had too much to lose, and that's how most people feel. They know the government is willing to take their homes, their livelihoods, their freedom and their future.
When I was young, I had a very violent temper. However I never hit anyone first... But when some hit me first it often meant a trip to the hospital for them. While fighting I had an adrenaline blackouts. I could only remember the first moments of the fights, that left my opponents knocked out or with broken bones. I would find myself standing staring at the people I injured and asked my self did I do that? I felt like the incredible Hulk.
I started smoking pot when I was 17, I found that pot calmed me down the fighting ceased. I recently went for twenty years with out becoming involved in a physical battle. Then last summer someone hit me. He was not hospitalized but he will never forget the day he hit this old hippie. Yes I smoked a lot of pot! I sold pot to my friends. I know for a fact that I went for seven years with out missing a day. However it did not ruin my life. I finished high school with honors. I went on to college, and afterwards landed a high paying management job. My employers knew I smoked pot, just like they knew I had a beard. Neither affected my job.
I did the single parent thing ... a social worker once came to my house because someone(my ex-wife) had reported to child protective services that I was a drug user. We had a discussion about marijuana and drug. I told the worker that I did not take drugs but that I did smoke pot and that I believed it made be a better parent, because it was easier to deal with what life had handed me. The worker accepted my argument and took no actions against me. This would not happen today. My child would be taken away.
You see this is what bothers me the most 100's of thousands of people are being jailed for years for doing the same things I did as a youth. If I were to live my life today I would serve life in prison for doing things that were acceptable twenty years ago. I think I turned out a okay. I quit smoking during the Reagan years to protect myself from forfeiture and jail. The reason I came to state College in the first place was to start a life over without marijuana. I had no problem doing this because even after ten years of heavy use I was not addicted. A few months ago I took a joint from Alan Gordon here on the street and took a couple hits to prove to myself that Julian and Alan were in fact smoking pot...
They were. I got a little high that day and I remembered those days when I regularly smoked and I thought to myself why did I ever stop. There is nothing wrong with feeling good. I have been to dozens of protests this year and have smoked whenever offered. A few weeks ago I even purchased a baggie so that I would have something to smoke when I was designated smoker in Julian's absence. The reason I come here is because I believe that a marijuana smoker can be a user and have a future.
I know those of you that say I am teaching your children to do drugs, have no idea, that I am protecting your children from the oppressive government that ill lock them up the first time they are caught with marijuana. All the rhetoric will not make marijuana go away, they will try it at some point and It will not be me that hands them their first joint. It will be one of their peers , who has discovered the truth. That marijuana will not hurt them, but the system will.
Some people think that our protest here was a flop, Because organizer Julian Heicklen was arrested early on, because they silenced the bullhorn, because some of our key note speakers backed out, because of the police presence and lack of press coverage and because marijuana was only smoked on six occasions unnoticed or unacknowledged, except for Dr Heicklen's joint. Some were disappointed in the size of the crowd we attracted.
I Have to disagree... as I mentioned earlier, I have attended around forty protest events so far this year. We distributed more literature during our thirty hours here than any of those other demonstrations perhaps as much as all them together, and I was in Layfette park Washington D.C where four thousand people gathered and smoked pot, I was at the marijuana march in N.Y. City where we marched over four miles while smoking pot. I was at the Columbus Cannabis Campout where 4000 gathered and smoked pot with an officer of the law even showing up.
Yet we got out more at this event. Our fliers and Booklets were not tossed on the ground or in the trash can, because they had to ask for it, only interested parties received literature, it was all taken home. This is a great feat in that most of the people who came were here for other reasons. Every other rally I have attended was a gathering of pot users and supporters, We distributed our literature to the general public, a public full of productive citizens who can afford to attend this pricey event. For the most They accepted and supported us. This protest was a huge success!!!
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