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A Portrait: 420 at UC Santa Cruz

by josh sonnenfeld (sugarloaf [at]
Every year on April 20, folks gather around North America to celebrate and smoke. UC Santa Cruz has historically had one of the largest gatherings around, a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts, spurred on by UCSC's unique cultural history and the occassional spotlights from outside (like Rolling Stone Magazine a few years ago). Its a big community event - a place where thousands of people can bring a bunch of friends, musical instruments, frisbees, you name it, and just have fun. It's in a safe and relatively secluded location (Porter Meadow) and problems are rare.

Over the past few years, the usual practice has been for a police officer and an administrator to come by towards 5:30 or 6 and urge people to move on. By that time, most folks have been there for a few hours and are pretty much ready to go, so the event gradually fizzles out. This year, however, something changed. Administrators, who have become increasingly paranoid over student protests, decided to assemble a large group of police and administrators in the meadow an hour before 4:20.

This part of the story is a little unclear, but my understanding is that the administrators passed out a bunch of ridiculous flyers (see below) about how smoking pot is illegal (the same color flyers that they pass out to protesters at rallies listing all the infractions they could be charged with) while the police effectively deterred people from attending due to their presence. According to sources, the police were mostly interested in giving traffic citations (especially at the base of campus), anyone dealing weed, drinking alcohol, or trying to sell goods, but one can assume that their primary purpose was intimidation. The students, weirded-out by a bunch of cops sitting in on the meadow, headed up to Porter College nearby, while others went to College 9/10 with the intention of just smoking there. Then, the story goes, as large numbers of students started arriving at Porter, they marched down to the meadow and retook the space from the police and administrators, initiating the yearly 420 festivities again as the majority of police and administrators dispersed.

By the time I arrived, the police were no longer visible, the administrators were out of sight (to reappear in my last photo of the set), and the celebration was in full swing. These photos document the various activities that make up UCSC's annual 420 extravaganza. If anyone has more information (especially photos) about the police presence and how Porter Meadow was retaken by students, please comment!
Measure K, passed by 64% of Santa Cruz voters in the November 2006 elections, makes enforcement of state and federal laws pertaining to the distribution, sale, cultivation or use of marijuana by adults their lowest law enforcement priority. Even though students vote in City elections, the University of California is exempt from local measures.
§No More Drug War
by josh sonnenfeld
Unlike the last two years, there were a few folks holding up signs trying to connect up 420 activities with decriminalization/legalization. While smoking is itself an act of civil disobedience - breaking an unjust law - getting folks to connect up their individual actions with a long-term movement is an ongoing process.
§Porter Meadow
by josh sonnenfeld
§Weed Can't Kill You, but the Cops Can
by josh sonnenfeld
I imagine this was put up as a reaction to the police presence earlier in the day.
§What Will You Be Doing 4/20?
by josh sonnenfeld
"Any violation of campus policy.." etc.

While administrators claim the flyers, now passed out at any protest or other events they don't control, is to 'inform people of their right to protest,' the purpose is to intimidate folks by listing all the arbitrary things that they can be charged with. Compare this to the flyer I posted at the bottom of this article:

Administrative Paranoia Taking Its Toll at UCSC
by josh sonnenfeld
Luckily, students took it upon themselves to ensure that administrators and police didn't interfer with a long-time UCSC tradition.
by josh sonnenfeld
by josh sonnenfeld
§To Virginia Tech
by josh sonnenfeld
Students filled a few posters with messages for those affected by the Virginia Tech tragedy. They're planning on mailing them.
§My Mind My Choice
by josh sonnenfeld
The other side of his sign says, "Reform Now". Both he and the other guy pictured with the sign roamed around the crowd for a few hours.
by josh sonnenfeld
by josh sonnenfeld
by josh sonnenfeld
There were about a dozen different folks selling various food items. It was all really cheap - like this guy selling water for $1. The students weren't making much money at all (especially if you think about how much sports stadiums charge for food) - mostly just providing a service to their peers and keeping them from being dehydrated.
by josh sonnenfeld
$10 shirts.
§Walking Home
by josh sonnenfeld
This path looks like a bunch of ants marching. At the start, everyone is coming towards the meadow. In the middle, the traffic is both ways, and at the end, everyone is going back towards the bus stops and other colleges.
by josh sonnenfeld
These guys stood by their truck for a few hours. They said they were having a good time - no problems.
§Walking Home
by josh sonnenfeld
§Free BBQ
by josh sonnenfeld
This RA at Porter College was nice enough to cook everyone up a free BBQ! A big sense of community and a good place to be on 420!
§How Many Administrators Does It Take to Screw in a Lightbulb?
by josh sonnenfeld
Admins regrouping after the day's festivities.

There's 13 of 'em in this picture. Using very conservative numbers, if each of them gets paid $60,000/yr, works 48 wks a year at 40 hours/wk, they would get paid apprx. $31 per hour each. Let's say, and this is probably a low estimate, that they spent 3 hours unneccessarily observing and interfering with 420 activities. That's approximately $1200 of our money wasted. And that's not even including the wages of the UCPD, the Fire Dept., or the work that administrators could have and should have been working on instead of observing protests.. like improving our education.

At least its not the estimated $30,000 it costs every time they bring UC Berkeley or UCLA police up to Santa Cruz to deal with protests...
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via arkansas imc
Mon, May 21, 2007 4:58PM
Sat, May 12, 2007 5:06PM
john catalano
Wed, May 2, 2007 12:08PM
student (repost)
Mon, Apr 30, 2007 7:54PM
Thu, Apr 26, 2007 4:59PM
random porter-ite
Thu, Apr 26, 2007 2:13AM
Robert Norse
Wed, Apr 25, 2007 7:36AM
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