Originally published by The Puffington Host
APRIL 2, 2012- At 8am the DEA took Richard Lee, the iconic wheelchair-bound founder of Oaksterdam University and the man behind California’s failed 2010 legalization initiative into custody and raided two of the buildings affiliated with his college. It is also being rumored that Todd McCormick, the man behind the first THC Expo in Los Angeles, also had his Oakland home raided and is in custody.
By 8:15 Oakland Americans for Safe Access (ASA) sent out messages to thousands in the Bay Area through their local raid alert system encouraging them to come down to the main campus at 1600 Broadway to protest and show support.
Officers gave the press conflicting messages about whether would be a press conference and who would be making comment to the press. All public officers from the IRS and DEA are refusing to comment, saying the investigation is sealed. It is unclear if Oakland Police were notified about the raid, however it is clear that they were not participants.
“If the Federal Government has extra resources to spend in Oakland they should be using them to get illegal guns off our streets,” said Jason Overman the Communications Director for Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan. Kaplan was a mayoral candidate in the last election cycle and an outspoken supporter of Oakland’s cannabis industry.
Supporters from the community and other cannabusinesses in Oakland quickly came to support Oaksterdam and show their disapproval.
“In ten years the public has become more educated but the federal government hasn’t,” said Jane Klein co-owner of Quick Trading Company, an Oakland-based company that has been publishing marijuana books since the 70s. in 2002, Klein’s Oakland home was raided in a similar show of force by the DEA and her husband, cannabis-writer Ed Rosenthal, was arrested and put on trial. He was famously sentenced to a day in jail with credit for time served.
by 9:30am the crowd had more than tripled. Attempts by officers to exit the adjacent parking lot were met with crowds of angry protestors surrounding them, their vehicles and preventing their exit. As the crowd slung insults at the officers, rumors spread throughout the crowd. It is being assumed that no employees of Oaksterdam University were in the building at the time of the raid and there is fear among alumni that student records may be a DEA target as well as cash and marijuana.
Local business owners were confused and amazed by the strong show of force on the local campus. “There are so many adverse factors, like crime, here in Oakland. We should not be disposing of good businesses [like Oaksterdam], we should be encouraging them,” said Rosanna, an employee at the pizza shop on the corner, which has a good relationship with the school and its students.
Around 1pm, the crowd, which had grown to a few hundred, followed officers to 17th and Webster where they were raiding Coffee Shop Blue Sky, the former home of the Oaksterdam Dispensary. Blue Sky has been closed since the move but still under Oaksterdam ownership.
The crowd surrounded the door, which had been blocked off from the inside by sheets to prevent the public from seeing the action inside. Bella Eiko, a media promoter from Occupy Oakland was able to move her iPad up to a break in the sheets and display to the crowd the officers inside. The officers all wore medical masks covering their mouths and noses.
“Since you aren’t smoking in there you can take your masks off!” someone in the crowd yelled. A group of about 5 US Marshalls pushed their way into the crowd amid loud boos to get to the door. “Get the fuck out of Oakland!” another crowd member yelled. As the situation heated up, glass from the storefront exterior shattered. Many in the crowd believe the police smashed it from inside, as the glass fell out to the street on a few protestors.
“This system has got to die, HELLA HELLA OCCUPY!” many in the crowd chanted, a direct reference to the riots in the same part of Oakland in late 2011 surrounding the eviction of the Occupy Oakland camp.
The situation quickly devolved into chaos as officers gathered on street corners were swarmed by the mob. A van pulled up and parked in the intersection of Franklin and 17th and officers exited brandishing batons. Another officer moved through the crowd with a rifle strapped to his chest and his hand on the trigger.
Protestors followed DEA agents as they tried to flee the scene in cars. Four protestors were arrested and others were rumored to have been run over by DEA vehicles. Officers walked three blocks away with protestors behind them and jumped in the back of two pickup trucks to get away from the crowd.
Protestors then moved to City Hall, a block away, the site of the Oakland Occupation. An impromptu press conference was held by marijuana supporters in anticipation of the formal conference, to be held at 6pm at the Oakland Police Headquarters.
The conference, led by local cannabis union leader Dan Rush of the UFCW featured Steve D’Angelo of Harborside Health Center and Weed Wars fame, Dale Skye Jones, chancellor of Oaksterdam University and husband of activist Jeff Jones, California NORML Director Dale Gieringer, Mickey Martin, ASA Director Steph Sherer, Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris of the West Coast Leaf, Jane Klein, wife of Ed Rosenthal who was raided in a similar fashion exactly 10 years ago in Oakland and Rob Raich, ex-husband of famous patient Angel Raich.
“This is the new Jim Crow… revolutions do not happen in reverse, we will win,” said Dale Skye Jones, infant son Jackson Jones in tow.
“This attack was not just on Richard Lee, it was on us all,” said Steve D’Angelo “at the same time Federal agents were twiddling their thumbs here at Oaksterdam, five others lost their lives here at an Oakland University.” D’Angelo is referring to the shooting that happened simultaneous with the raid at Oikos University in Oakland, where seven are now confirmed dead.
“This whole thing is backwards, at Oaksterdam University we pride ourselves in teaching our students to follow the law,” said Chris Conrad, instructor at Oaksterdam and cannabis expert witness on criminal cases, “Nixon couldn’t stop us, Reagan couldn’t stop us, Bush Senior couldn’t stop us, Clinton couldn’t stop us, Bush Junior couldn’t stop us and I’ll be damned if–”
“Obama’s gonna stop us!” the crowd finished for him.
A press conference scheduled for 6pm at Oakland Police Headquarters was diverted to instead discuss the shootings at Oikos academy. Oakland Police say they have no plans to discuss the raid and that it did not involve their department.
San Francisco ASA had previously planned a protest tomorrow in front of San Francisco City Hall, protestors from today’s events in Oakland plan on joining the protest.