Police, sniffer dogs and toupes at Smokey Bears picnic
13th August 2000 / Squall Download 6, Sept-Oct 2000, pg. 5.
Police sniffer dogs bounded out of the unmarked van as over 50 officers closed in on this year’s Smokey Bears picnic in Portsmouth.
Nearly 400 people gathered on Portsmouth Southsea Common on August 13th for the longest running annual protest against the prohibition of cannabis. Despite most people arriving for the picnic clutching only dummy joints containing legal herbs, Hampshire police sniffer dogs targeted dozens of people. Police spokeswoman Susan Rolling later claimed: “Anyone who wore hemp trousers in an effort to confuse our sniffer dogs should not have been surprised to be temporarily detained”. Using their own sense of smell, officers succeeded in arresting three teenagers for possessing cannabis as police cast their net beyond the protest and out to the public passing by.
Anarchist and 36 year-old shop manager, Jonathan Neil was arrested for making comments about a police surveillance officer’s ill fitting wig. Police mistakenly reported to the press that his arrest was for drugs. “My name and address was splashed over the local media for being in possession of drugs when it is a total lie. I feel that the police really don’t care whether the information they release on protesters is correct as it is difficult to raise funds to mount a legal case. This could either be an attempt at defaming me or sheer incompetence” said Mr Neil.
Hampshire police later stated that a mistake had been made but a public apology has not been issued.
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