CU-Boulder refutes attorney's claim that its 4/20 tactics were "fascist"
Original item, 12:13 p.m. May 1: CU-Boulder closed Norlin Quad as part of its attempt to shrink the annual 4/20 event on campus. Three CU students (including Gabriel Kuettel, seen here) were cited for trespassing on Norlin that day, and their lawyer, Sean McAllister, reveals that they'll be fighting the charges on First Amendment grounds. Moreover, he says they won't accept lesser punishment to go away. Unless the counts are dismissed, they'll eagerly take the matter to trial.
Norlin Quad is the traditional spot for students and visitors to mark the 4/20 celebration at CU-Boulder. As such, the university, which also closed the campus to visitors, made the quad off-limits to students with the exception of a single pathway. CU staffers also spread the grass with fish fertilizer that puts off a powerful stench immediately after application.
Nonetheless, Kuettel, along with fellow students Jonathan Edwards and John Demopoulos, ventured into this area anyhow. McAllister, whose firm is representing the trio pro bono, stresses that their act wasn't coordinated. "Gabe told me none of them knew each other. They all met that day, and none of them were intending to get ticketed or trespass."
Photo by Britt Chester
What changed Kuettel's mind? In McAllister's words, "Gabe said he was on his way to class and was stopped by a police officer who made him show an ID before he could get onto campus -- and he'd lost his ID. So he almost wasn't able to get on campus grounds to get to class." In the end, the officer in question allowed Kuettel beyond the barricades after he presented a bus pass, "but that made him upset with the whole thing," McAllister continues. "He decided that this was outrageous and he was going to engage in an act of civil disobedience to protest. It was a spur of the moment thing; he decided somebody needed to make a statement."
Afterward, Kuettel and company were "misportrayed in the media as stoners," McAllister believes. "They weren't high, and they didn't have any marijuana on them; none of them were ticketed for that. They were carrying protest signs, some of them talking about the 1984 concept of big government crackdowns and Orwellian positions that weren't allowing people to express an opinion.... They would all say they support marijuana legalization, but they were really out there getting arrested to protest the university's position on the First Amendment."
John Demopoulos under arrest on 4/20.
A request for a temporary restraining order to prevent CU from closing its campus on 4/20 raised the same issue but was rejected. That didn't surprise McAllister. "I knew it was a loser," he says. "But these guys are all registered students, all seniors, all about to graduate. And we intend to litigate the legality of closing Norlin Quad to students themselves -- to students who are not only taxpayers, but who are paying the university tuition to be there, and who weren't allowed to express their First Amendment opinions on a green grassy field."
Page down to continue reading our interview with the 4/20 legal challenge, complete with photos and a video.