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4/20 at Civic Center Park: Cops pledge greater presence, "discretion" with smokers

420.2013.shooting.1.jpg
Photo by Brandon Marshall
Police at Civic Center Park in the aftermath of last year's 4/20 shooting.
There'll be a lot of pressure on Denver police officers working this weekend's annual 4/20 event at Civic Center Park. Organizers have been asked to discourage public smoking even though lighting up at 4:20 p.m. on April 20 is arguably the gathering's most sacred tradition -- and security concerns are higher than ever given a still-unsolved shooting last year that resulted in one day's worth of festivities being canceled.

We asked Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson about these issues and how the department plans to approach them. Here's what he had to say.

"There will be a large police presence in the downtown area at the event," Jackson says. When asked for an estimate of the force's size, however, he defers. "What I can tell you is that officers will be patrolling the area to ensure the safety of the public -- people involved in the festival and people traveling nearby.

william.breathes.420.photo.2013.jpg
Marijuana critic William Breathes took this photo capturing 4:20 p.m. at Civic Center on April 20, 2013.
"Officers will be very visible," he adds. "We'll enforce the laws but exercise the proper discretion as we do so."

Does that mean the DPD will steer clear of mass arrests for public marijuana smoking, mirroring the department's actions in past years?

"We want people to respect the laws and the ordinances," Jackson replies. "Voters said marijuana was legal and we respect that. And we also want people to respect the laws as written -- and the law says not to smoke publicly. But we want to exercise discretion for the safety of everyone involved."

Does that mean backing off if a confrontation between law enforcement and 4/20 participants seems to be brewing? Rather than directly addressing this issue, Jackson sticks to his talking points.

420.2013.shooting.4.jpg
Photo by Brandon Marshall
Following the shooting last year.
"I'm not trying to be coy or difficult," he says at one point. "But we have to consider the public safety. So we're going to take everything into consideration -- officer safety and community safety -- whenever we take action."

Meanwhile, Jackson notes that "we're very cognizant about what happened last year" in terms of the shooting.

Continue for more of our interview with Denver police spokesman Sonny Jackson about the law-enforcement approach to this year's 4/20 event, including more photos.



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52 comments
Ooklah Moc
Ooklah Moc

Fuck the police!!!!!! its time to smoke!

Sean Valdez
Sean Valdez

"Unsolved" my ass! This was a set up to make 420 look bad. Last year up until that point it was beautiful and on its way to become the most successful 420 yet. Anyone who was there knows that at one point the swat had someone then suddenly they have no suspects. Someone from SAM, local government, and local authorities paid someone to shoot up 420. I still believe they are going to pay someone to shoot up a dispensary surprise they have not yet. The only violence committed that is linked to pot is the violence created and committed by the government and local authorities to try to stop it from being legalized.

Kevin Lawson
Kevin Lawson

this is he stupidest thing i've ever read, be ashamed of yourself.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

               ... *** Marijuana Overdose Leads to DEATH !! ***...


Man who plunged from Denver balcony ate 6x recommended amount of pot cookie

A college student who jumped to his death from a Denver hotel balcony last month ate six times the recommended amount of a marijuana cookie before his death.


Levy Thamba, a 19-year-old student at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., died last month at a Holiday Inn in northeast Denver while visiting with three friends.


An investigative report by Denver police into Thamba's death released this week details events leading up to the young man's death.


Denver police presented the case to the Denver District Attorney's Office. Prosecutors decided not to pursue criminal charges against Bessie Gondwe, the only person of legal age among the foursome who would be able to purchase recreational marijuana in Colorado.


Thamba, who was from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa, ate an entire "Sweet Grass Kitchen" lemon poppy seed cookie. It contained 65 milligrams of THC and was labeled 6.5 servings, the report said.


Gondwe, 23, one of the students and a friend of Thamba, told investigators that the cookie was purchased at a downtown marijuana store, Native Root Apothecary, on the 16th Street Mall.The group purchased four cookies, one for each one of them, at a price of $10 apiece.


Back at the hotel they all consumed a single slice of the cookie. Thamba said "he didn't feel anything and he ate the remainder of his cookie all at once."


Thamba awoke early that morning, shivering and speaking in French, the report said. The others — the group was sharing a room — calmed him down.


But he awoke several times, again in incoherent states, at one point apparently talking to a room lamp.


During one of the intervals, Thamba left the fourth- floor hotel room, returned and said: "This is a sign from God that this has happened, that I can't control myself," Anna Jakaovljeveic, 20, Thamba's friend, told investigators. "It's not because of the weed."


He went back to sleep, but awoke "crazy" and began smashing room furniture, lamps and the television.


He ran from the room, out the front door, and tumbled over a railing on an elevated hallway overlooking the lobby.


As part of the investigation police confiscated all Sweet Grass cookies Native Root had in stock.


The Denver coroner listed "marijuana intoxication" as a significant condition contributing to his death. According to an autopsy report, Thamba's marijuana concentration in his blood was 7.2 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. In impaired driving cases, state law sets a standard of 5 nanograms per milliliter at which juries can presume impairment.



Aaron Harmon
Aaron Harmon

This is exactly why people treat us like retards. Fuck 4/20.

Adam Johnson
Adam Johnson

Fucking Nazis leave the hippies alone. Oh and Good work solving that shooting last year, maybe a few less donuts and a little more observing crowds this year.

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

Just bring some small livestock and let them graze in the park. Claim the public park as your land like the ass hat getting away with it in Nevada.

Patrick Layman
Patrick Layman

If you bring your dog, don't forget the casket too.

Dave LeDoux
Dave LeDoux

I will attend this year, if any PIG lays one finger on me he will be going to Denver General.

Christopher Black
Christopher Black

i preffered shit when it was illegal-pigs could care less then about smoking herb,and we could actually make a buck by helping others get a good bag...now the government is makin loot selling,and you cant even puff at civic center on 420?!idk if we really "won".......more like got played.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

If more police learn discretion, good for them.  Discretion is a step toward police professionalism.  

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Greater "presence?" There are already hordes of them, and the only violence that ever happened was brought in by an outsider gangster.

By the way, saw nothing substantiating the word "greater" in this article, even though it appears in the title.

Justin Day
Justin Day

I'll be there working on a pedicab. It will be fun but I think serving alcohol there is a bad idea. If anything goes wrong they'll blame marijuana.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

The PEOPLE / VOTERS of Colorado have Spoken!! ... via the festering turd A64 which explicitly renounces ANY PUBLIC USE of Marijuana.


Obey the Will of the People !!


.

ProximoJHB
ProximoJHB

I love how these Morons from the city and DFD complain about the safety of people at the 420 Rally so they will be trying to enforce the Smoking Ban but yet they are encouraging alcohol consumption!! WOW WTF?!?!!

KeepItInUrPants
KeepItInUrPants

I'll be there just like last year. So will the ignorant gang-bangers that love to flock to this event. Note to all neck-tattoo having thugs: Please leave your children and guns at home. You seem to be irresponsible with both of them. This is an important event where people come together to celebrate the cannabis plant. Please don't ruin it yet again this year with your stupidity.

Evelyn Maria
Evelyn Maria

How much does this cost for protection ? They should have to pay to attend

Bret Kantola
Bret Kantola

If you crawl under your rock you'll be "safer" too.

Bret Kantola
Bret Kantola

A celebration of our hard fought and WON battle.

Sara Marie
Sara Marie

It is also easter that day, wonder how many.kids will be alone on easter or with grandparents because their parents went to the rally....smh sad day!! Stay home n eat chocolate you'll be safer ;)

Jon Miller
Jon Miller

(And nobody cares that I do either.)

Jon Miller
Jon Miller

People are stupid. Why go to this? Nobody cares that you smoke pot.

Chris Ricciardi
Chris Ricciardi

It's 'unsolved' because it was what they wanted to happen. With a hired 'thug', to try and ruin/break up a peaceful event. JS.

Aj Gillman
Aj Gillman

It's four blocks from my apartment. I'm gonna get high at my place and stroll on over:)

Steve Paradise
Steve Paradise

I will stay far away from downtown.Going nowhere near denver co

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Stupid Stoner Retards are as Stupid Stoner Retards do!


SSRAASSRD!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... another "peaceful pot smoker" ...

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@ProximoJHB  Lots of folks agree with you, Proximo. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@KeepItInUrPants  "So will the ignorant gang-bangers that love to flock to this event"


Gang-banging Thugs are Stoners too !!



michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@KeepItInUrPants  Passionate post, Keep. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

I decline the "protection." If you want a police "presence," you pay for it!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

An optimistic post, Bret. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Any day's a good day to eat chocolate from our perspective. Thanks for posting, Sara.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

The easter bunny is your problem, not mine. Same thing with kids.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... because you're a douche

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Sounds like you could be right in the middle of the 4:20 cloud, Aj. Thanks for posting.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @muhutdafugaLegalized weed won't end all crime, nor will it cure a mentally ill patient.  In fact, one my brighter psychiatrist co-workers suggested that weed has more of a negative effect on the mentally ill than normal.

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