9:53pm

Fri April 20, 2012
420 in Boulder

CU Crackdown Slows, But Doesn't Snuff Out 420

"When civil rights are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!" That was the cheer shouted by hundreds of protesters this afternoon at the University of Colorado Boulder and the annual 420 event.

The group, made up predominantly of young adults, were protesting the University of Colorado's 420 campus closure. They started their march down Broadway at 3:30pm. The protesters waited for the light to change and turned onto Pleasant street, marching around the block to cheers from bystanders before circling back to campus. 

Security and police were stationed at the major entrances to campus, checking for CU issued identification. Only those with ID cards could enter. When the protesters were not stopped by the first security they met, they continued on to the edge of Norlin Quad, where past 420 events have taken place.

Media surrounded the protesters as police officers asked those in front for identification. The protesters refused and continued call and response cheers until announcing the protest was moving to Ferrand field, another open space on the eastern side of campus.   

The protesters turned around and continued through the CU campus, but instead of going to Ferrand field they settled on an open space by the Duane Physics building. Both the crowd watching and the protesters continued to grow in size as the protest descended into the middle of the field with police and an ambulance looking on. 

A man identifying himself as "Sadensha, Wyclef (Jean's) brother" was brought to the field in a CU golf cart. He was immediately handed a pipe filled with marijuana as he walked into the protesters. Using a bullhorn provided by a protester, he addressed the crowd:

"I'm gonna make a deal with ya? Are you all up for a deal? ...If I hit this bowl, are you all comin' to the show?"

This was in reference to the concert by Wyclef Jean that was sponsored by the University as an alternative event to the annual smoke-out.

The protesters yelled their approval, and Wyclef proceeded to smoke the pipe he had been given, pausing first to take pictures with fans. He then left the field in the CU golf cart, and by 4:40 the crowd had dwindled.  

Many people on campus were surprised by the protest and took video and pictures of the field, to the chagrin of the protesters who yelled at the students to join them. Estimates had the number of protestors out-numbering the observers, 300 to 400.

When asked, protesters seemed wary of the police, and many said they were not willing to get arrested. The show of force by the University didn't have the intended effect of quashing the annual event, but it did alter the number that eventually took part - which in the past has been estimated at several thousand.