Dallas Marijuana March features friendly police presence as thousands gather
With little notice and hardly any advertising, a non-profit group drew thousands of people to their marijuana protest march in Dallas on Saturday.
According to official police estimates, around 2,000 people were in attendance. Texas Cannabis Report estimates put the number just under 2,000.
Featuring a lineup of speakers including political candidates, activists, lawyers, and a nine-year-old girl who suffers from seizures, along with several bands, the Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws saw it all as a huge accomplishment.
In fact, nearly as many people attended this march as there were at the Global Marijuana March event held this past May in downtown Fort Worth. This is also the largest group of people ever for a marijuana event at Dallas City Hall.
Unable to secure a billboard on such short notice, with Clear Channel telling the group that they refused to do business with them, being able to draw such a crowd through social media and word-of-mouth was no small feat.
In all though, the organization spent about $1,500 getting permits for the event and complying with all of the necessary requirements for hosting such a large amount of people, including portable toilets and security.
At least a dozen Dallas police officers were on hand to ensure the event remained safe.
Several of those officers voiced their support for marijuana legalization, though said that they wanted participants to be respectful by not consuming cannabis in from of them. At one point an officer approached a man and pulled a joint from his hand, then calmly walked away without further incident.
One officer noted that at times people pushed the limit, but no one ever stepped over the line. “Marijuana is still illegal, and people need to be aware of their surroundings. Go down the street or at least away from officers and any children.”
That officer was happy though to see so many young people at the march. “Kids these days aren’t hardly involved in politics at all, so it’s refreshing to see them stand up for something they believe in, and hopefully that leads them to further activism in areas other than marijuana legalization.”
Also on the scene were local fire fighters. One of them stated that they support marijuana legalization, but asked that they not be photographed. Officers also asked not to be photographed as well.
People of all ages and backgrounds were in attendance, from young children all the way up to the elderly, though those between 18 and 35 were the most prevalent.
An elderly black man who happened to be across the street at the library took notice of the group and decided to join in. He had not heard about the event or DFW NORML, but was excited to see everyone coming together to defend people’s rights.
The event began slowly, with around 400 to start, however the numbers swelled when the two and a half mile march to Dealey Plaza began.
Dealey Plaza is historically known as the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Protesters filled the streets as police cleared the way. Most bystanders took great interest in the group, along with a few sour faces. Those marching chanted pro-marijuana slogans all the way as people honked and cheered in support.
More speakers testified at the Plaza, almost as if it were a religious experience. Some of those speakers even openly smoked marijuana as they talked to the crowd.
As DFW NORML Executive Director Shaun McAlister spoke to the crowd he stressed one point, that if people didn’t go out to vote and contact their representatives, then the march was for nothing.
Once the dust finally settled on the event, organizers ensured that public property was respected and left as it was found without trash, and no arrests were made.
Prior to the march, the group had just over 900 active members in their organization. They believe that after today, there’s likely over 1,000; a milestone which helps continue to count them as one of the most effective marijuana activist groups in the nation.
The group looks forward to 2015 when the new Texas legislative session begins. They plan to push a medical marijuana bill which they believe will pass with help of people talking to their representatives. Also set to be introduced is a full legalization bill, as well as penalty reduction legislation.
By: Stephen Carter