The police presence on campus Friday kept the 4/20 gathering off of Norlin Quad but could not prevent protesters from celebrating on the lawn by the Duane Physics building.
The CU campus was calm for most of Friday until a group of protesters who met at Broadway and Canyon started marching south on Broadway at around 3:45 p.m. The group’s numbers grew to 300, who marched around the Hill and eventually entered campus.
Kristen Kernan, a 24-year-old senior environmental studies major, said that she was conflicted about the campus being closed and wanted to see what would happen at the protest.
“I’m torn about it. I think that 10,000 people smoking on Norlin Quad is disruptive to CU, but closing the campus is ridiculous too,” Kernan said. “I’m just going to wait and see what happens at the protest.”
According to a CU Police Department news release, three students were arrested for crossing the police caution tape on the Norlin Quad lawn. Summonses for trespassing were issued to 11 people, and a summons of possession was issued to one Boulder resident.
Minutes before he was arrested, John Demopoulos, a 21-year-old senior physics major, said that he was protesting to protect his freedom. He said that the campus lockdown was excessive and that the university was overstepping their boundaries.
“Freedom, I’m here to protect my freedom; I don’t know how else to say it,” Demopoulos said. “I think the campus lockdown is far overreaching the power that they actually have over the school. I think they are just making these decisions without any checks and balances.”
The protesters that convened at Broadway and Canyon got off to a slow start with an estimated 70 people that showed up at the allotted meeting time and place.
Louise Knapp, a Boulder resident, said that she attended the protest because, as a local citizen, she should have the right to enter campus.
“I think it’s terrible,” Knapp said. “I’m a Boulder citizen and a taxpayer; I should have the right to go on campus. When I heard that they were closing it down, I thought that I should show up at the protest.”
Ken Bonetti said that he was astonished at the university’s security measures and that he was discouraged that more students were not at the protest.
“I’m aghast that the university would take such a heavy-handed approach to this [4/20 celebration],” Bonetti said. “I’m disappointed that the students aren’t more up in arms about this. It’s sad to watch in the United States of America.”
When the crowd got to the entrance of Norlin Quad, police stopped the protesters and asked for their IDs.
Daniel Ellis Schwartz, a sophomore physics major and an organizer of the Facebook event “4/20 Protest at CU Boulder,” said that the crowd gathered at Norlin Quad was harmless and that they believed that marijuana should be legalized.
“There are those that would wish to silence the message that we have,” Schwartz said. “We are using no weapons, we are strong, we are loud and we are here because we believe that cannabis should be legalized. We will not fight you: you have guns, we have none. When the clock strikes 4:20, you know what to do.”
Deciding not to enter Norlin Quad, the group instead started marching to Farrand Field but ended up in the lawn in front of the Duane Physics building to celebrate 4/20. The police followed the group and monitored the situation but allowed the celebration to commence. Wyclef Jean’s brother, Sedeck Jean, made an appearance at the field to encourage people to attend the free concert featuring Wycleaf Jean that was put on by CUSG and Program Council.
Lindsay Carder, a 24-year-old senior graduate student, said that the police could not stop the protesters from celebrating 4/20.
“Regardless of the threat of the police, a public university cannot prohibit our right to protest,” Carder said.
Ryan Huff, a CUPD spokesperson, said the protesters were allowed to march on campus and assemble in the field outside of Duane Physics.
“We allowed the protesters to march on campus, and as far as the group on Duane, we decided not to engage,” Huff said.
After approximately 30 minutes, according to a CUPD news release, the gathering commenced and the group left without incident.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Bethany Morris at Bethany.firstname.lastname@example.org.