Cannabis advocate David Hill’s Vancouver Art Gallery urban cannabis project came to an end today, after police detained one individual and temporarily removed items.
Hill, and a group of volunteers, had set up a tent at the Art Gallery May 21 with the plan to remain in the space until Jul. 1, handing out small, potted cannabis plants to those that visit their tent.
“What we’re trying to do is grow marijuana on the steps of the art gallery, all the way to the high court,” said Hill.
While police said Hill was initially cooperative, the number of tents grew from one to three.
“Police recently began receiving noise complaints from loud music being played late at night,” said media relations officer constable Brian Montague. “Police also received information he was giving away not only the plants, but marijuana products as part of the protest.”
Montague said on Jun.1, officers went to speak with Hill about some growing public concerns, complaints and safety issues.
“At the time, the organizer was on the steps in a verbal argument with an unknown person. He stated he was becoming frustrated with those (not police) who had expressed their displeasure with this protest,” said Montague. “Mr. Hill was becoming less cooperative with officers. He refused to reason and work with police in a way that would have allowed him to keep his plans of an ongoing protest had the concerns raised been addressed.”
Hill said he and his volunteers had been defending their site from “local thugs” that he said had attacked them the night before.
“The cops came in, first thing in the morning, probably, I don’t know, 50-60 strong, surrounded us,” said Hill. “They told me they were going to take the plants, I said ‘no.’ I stood my ground beside the plants, they tried to take the plants and I grabbed them from their hands and pushed some city workers backwards.
“The cops came and tried to stop me and I said ‘I will fight for these plants, nobody’s going to take these plants.'”
Montague said that due to the ongoing complaints, growing safety concerns and the lack of cooperation on behalf of the organizer, a decision was made to ask Hill to end the protest.
“He refused and stated he would not remove the structures. Today he was issued a by-law ticket (he was not arrested) and police stood by to keep the peace while city workers gathered four truckloads of items off the site,” Montague said. “The items have been stored for him to retrieve at a later date if he wishes. One person who tried to obstruct city workers was detained until city crews could complete their task to clean up.”
Hill said the bylaw infraction he was given was unconstitutional and he plans to fight the action against him and continue his cannabis program.
“If I have to, I’ll put these plants on wheels,” said Hill.