Update (5:10 p.m.): Some 400 protesters took over downtown Oakland, with the crowds extending for more than a city block in anticipation of the president's arrival. SF Weekly writer Chris Roberts was at the scene and tells us that protesters had giant posters emblazoned with the faces of Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and U.S. Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag, whose office made the move to shut down Oakland's Harborside pot club.
The protesters are "ask[ing] President Obama to ensure federal enforcement actions are consistent with Attorney General Eric Holder's sworn testimony to Congress" that only organizations who break state law face prosecution, said Stephen DeAngelo, Harborside's CEO.
Check out SF Weekly's slideshow of the rally.
Harborside would be the biggest and highest-profile casualty of the Justice Department's marijuana war, which will have claimed nearly a dozen Bay Area dispensaries by the end of July. In brief comments Monday, DeAngelo said that Harborside did not receive a warning letter from Haag's office like the ones sent to upward of eight San Francisco dispensaries -- all of which have closed or plan to close.
"There was no warning," said DeAngelo, whose landlord, security executive Ana Chretien, must deal with the forfeiture action, and may move to evict Harborside as well. "But we're eager for our day in court.
"The mission is clear," he contined. "They're going after the most
visible, most politically active players in the movement. They're trying
to silence our voices."
Some friendly faces from Occupy Oakland also made an appearance: A few bandanna-wearing, black-flag-waving characters from Black Bloc joined the march. Aside from tarrying to pester police posted along the parade route, their participation was without incident.
Update (3:35 p.m.): Media reports confirm that the president has
landed in Oakland. Among the throng of people ready to greet the
president are some 200 pot smokers/activists who have a few choice words
for him. According to the Mercury News,
the protesters are currently rallying outside Oakland City Hall, but
are planning to end their march before the president is scheduled to
speak at 8 p.m. to "avoid conflict." But don't worry, Occupy Oakland
will pick up the protesting where the pot smokers leave off.
Original story (9:10 a.m.) As we warned you last week,
Obama is making an appearance today in Oakland, where in some circles,
he's persona non grata -- specifically those circles where there's a lot
of puffing and passing going on.
If you don't believe us, then
head down to the Fox Theater in downtown Oakland right now (well, after
you finish reading this article), where media vans and protesters are
already milling around hours before the president is scheduled to
arrive. Many of those protesters are pot smokers, who are not happy with
Obama's about-face on medical marijuana.
As East Bay papers note
this morning, several
businesses have posted green signs in their window to protest Obama's
nonstop crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries, most recently the
Harborside Health Center, which found property forfeiture notices posted
to its building one morning before work.
were signed by the office of United States Attorney Melinda Haag, whose
office will shut down another two dispensaries in San Francisco by the
end of the month, bringing her Bay Area total to 10.
Obama is scheduled to appear at 4:30 p.m. at the Fox Theater, just a few steps from Oaksterdam University, which was raided by the feds back in April.
So here's the plan: Cannabis advocates will meet outside City Hall for a rally at noon to protest the president and all his policies against pot. If medical marijuana isn't your cause, anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait,