Is the End of Prohibition at Hand?
by MICHAEL DONNELLY
Back in 1970, I was part of a group of about thirty protesters who descended upon the Michigan State Capitol to protest the hard-time incarceration of our friend, ally and hero John Sinclair. John, a fellow Flint native whom I’ve known since I was nine-years-old, had been sentenced in 1969 to ten years in prison after giving two joints to an undercover agent who had incessantly begged him for some. This blatant political sentence against the founder of the anti-racist/anti-war White Panther Party and erstwhile music promoter/DJ hammered home the oligarchy’s hatred of all things “counterculture” – the music, the pro-Civil Rights politics, the whole Peace, Love and Granola rising culture… but, foremost was its intentional, chilling effect on peaceful marijuana users.
We entered the balcony to the Senate Chamber. Soon, we were surrounded by police who forced us out of the balcony and then suddenly gassed us once we were on the circular stairs of the Rotunda.
The entire Capitol evacuated through dense stinging smog that lingered under the Rotunda Dome. We retreated to a corner of the Capitol lawn, cleared our eyes and commiserated under our White Panther and Woodstock Nation flags. (Another guy who suffered many an arrest and many a beating in the cause of ending the Vietnam War, Abbie Hoffman, who had famously rushed on stage at Woodstock to protest Sinclair’s incarceration – and got yet another beating by the jackass Pete Townshend for his troubles – had supplied the fine black flag with central green cannabis leaf over a red star that I carried. Ironically, The Who were playing the song The Acid Queen when Townshend bonked Hoffman in the head with a guitar.)
Someone shouted in the direction of the phalanx of cops now surrounding the Capitol, “You fuckers. In two years pot will be legal and you’ll be joining us!”
Sinclair was released in December 1971, three days after the great John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger, Abbie, Allen Ginsberg and others held a benefit concert for John in Ann Arbor. Soon, the felony laws he was convicted under were overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court. It looked like that fellow protester’s prediction was at hand.
FATTENING FROGS FOR SNAKES 2012