Police seal off park next to Knesset (Parliament) in attempt to head off ‘Big Bong Night’ protest; 30 arrested.
Some 2,000 people massed outside the Knesset in Jerusalem on Saturday night to demand the legalization of cannabis
The protesters were blocking the entry road to the Knesset early Sunday morning and clashing with police, who were attempting to dispel the demonstration and reopen the road.
Thirty protesters were arrested, 23 for disturbing the peace, after they blocked the Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard to traffic, and seven for drug violations.
Demonstrators smoked pot publicly, and chanted “the people demand legal cannabis,” a spin off of the slogan for the 2011 social justice protests.
The protest, dubbed “The Big Bong Night,” was originally slated to take place in the nearby Wohl Rose Park, but police sealed off the area in an attempt to prevent it from taking place.
On Friday two of the organizers, Amos Dov Silver and Offer Bartov, were arrested and charged with sedition after they called on participants to smoke marijuana at the demonstration.
On the event’s Facebook page, the organizers wrote: “In this event there is no intention of provocation or breaking a law, it’s the law that sees us this way and not the other way around. We are coming to smoke cannabis, because that’s what we do. And if the state has a problem with the consumption of cannabis it can begin arresting us one by one.”
Earlier this year, 11 MKs acknowledged having used cannabis in one form or another.
Former attorney-general Menachem Mazuz told Haaretz last year that pursuing “personal use” cases for “soft drugs” such as marijuana was “a waste of law enforcement resources.” Yet Israeli law enforcement officials invest significant resources in such cases. Police opened 22,895 investigations into personal drug use in 2012, a figure amounting to fully 70 percent of narcotics investigations that year, resulting in 5,254 indictments.
The issue grabbed headlines earlier this month when several high-profile celebrities were questioned by police over allegations that they had acquired small amounts of marijuana for personal use.
BY TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF
April 20, 2014, 3:57 am
Updated: April 20, 2014, 10:58 am
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Thousands rally in Jerusalem for pot legalization