Yesterday the University of Colorado announced that it will close the entire Boulder campus to non-students or staff on April 20th in an effort to ruin the annual 4/20 smokeout.
CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard cited a Boulder campus rule — “Campus Use of University Facilities” — that allows the chancellor to restrict access because of weather, safety concerns or “disruption.” He said the 4/20 closure falls into the latter category.
“This is definitely a measure that is unique,” Bronson Hilliard told The Daily Camera. “That should be a signal to people that we’re very serious about ending this event on our campus.”
“The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” Chancellor Phil DiStefano told The Daily Camera.
When I first read this report, I’m sure I had the same reaction that most readers did. ‘Let’s do it anyways! I’m willing to get a possession ticket, which isn’t a big deal in Colorado.’ Well unfortunately, that’s not the only charge that a protester would be looking at. Trespassing charges result in up to six months in jail and a $750 fine. And you know those A-holes in campus security will be handing out those tickets very freely.
Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder County chapter of the ACLU, said he has serious concerns about CU’s tactics.
“It would seem as though this would make the young person wearing a tie-dye shirt on 4/20 more likely to be intercepted by police than somebody who walked on the campus with a coat and tie,” Judd Golden told The Daily Camera. “The likelihood of selective enforcement seems significant.”
These actions have prompted a letter to the Boulder City Council, see below:
Open Letter to the Boulder City Council
From: Dennis L. Blewitt, Attorney at Law
Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2012
Subject: 4/20 Alternate Location
Dear City Council:
CU has threatened to shut down campus on 4/20.
The 4/20 protest happens annually on International Cannabis Day on 4/20. At 4:20pm on 4/20, cannabis users world-wide light up in public as an act of civil disobedience and protest against the cannabis laws. The 4/20 protest in Boulder has traditionally been a short-lived “flash mob” type of student protest, lasting from when classes get out around 3:50pm, peaking at 4:20pm with a big cloud of smoke. By 4:45pm, most of the people are gone, home to eat dinner or to their next class.
This protest has gone on for at least the past 20 years on campus, with very few, if any, problems. It is about the most peaceful protest you can imagine.
The Boulder Committee to Protect the First Amendment demands that the City of Boulder and the University of Colorado uphold citizen’s first amendment rights to engage in this protest.
We have arranged for all-legal “Gonzo First Amendment Weed” to be provided to all students who wish to protest, so they will only be symbolically breaking the law. CU’s cherished “good reputation” will remain intact. Students will smoke legal herbal cigarettes (no THC or tobacco) instead of the real thing. No laws will be violated, therefore there is no reason to shut down the 4/20 protest.
If CU closes campus, this will cause the protest to spill over onto the Hill, which will be a very dangerous situation. Do not mix police and protesters! Let this event happen peacefully as it does ever year. Protesters will not be breaking any laws.
Students and citizens of Boulder will exercise their First Amendment rights at 4:20pm on 4/20 somewhere near campus. If not Norlin Quad, then it will be the Hill, unless the City provides an alternative location immediately.
Please let us know immediately where the City of Boulder where the City of Boulder’s alternate location for the 4/20 protest is going to be, so we can help avoid any harm to students or Boulder citizens. Police in riot gear closing campus with the intention of trying to stop a short, peaceful student protest is not the image that Boulder or CU should want to portray.