The police in Long Beach, CA raided a marijuana dispensary on June 19th and were caught on film destroying surveillance cameras in an attempt to hide evidence of misconduct and excessive force, unaware that the video footage was being recorded off site. A volunteer at the collective can be seen in the video below with his neck stomped on by one of the officers who raided the facility.
The THC Downtown Collective was raided for not having a city permit although it was in compliance with state regulations. The question is why would the Long Beach police department feel the need to destroy cameras that were recording a lawful police action? During the raid, police removed the shop’s ATM as well as its cannabis. Dorian Brooks, the volunteer who can be seen in the video below with his neck stomped on by one of the officers, “told NBC Los Angeles that the amount of force used to arrest him was excessive and out-of-proportion considering the crime.”
Brooks is now filing a million dollar lawsuit for medical damages that resulted from the raid. The papers, which were filed July 5th, state that the raid was illegal and allege that the officers involved used excessive force. According to a report by the Huffington Post, employees of the dispensary are claiming $10,000 in damage and destruction of evidence in addition to allegations of police brutality.
The destruction of the surveillance cameras during the drug raid by an undercover officer in plain clothes may have violated the First Amendment. The First Circuit Federal Appeals court in Boston ruled just last year that:
“The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity]. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs.”
Five people were arrested in the raid, according to Long Beach police.
Raids on legal dispensaries are happening all over California. G3 Holistic’s in Upland, California has been raided twice in four months. The DEA entered one morning earlier this year and proceeded to confiscate 25 lbs of marijuana as well as 89 lbs of edible products. The owner, Aaron Sandusky, had previously helped a group of other business owners in the town secure a federal grand jury’s indictment of Upland city officials back in 2011 for shaking down businesses for bribes in exchange for city services. This included former Mayor John Pomierski, who attempted to gain $20,000 dollars in what was termed a “tolling agreement.”
In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215 – The Compassionate Use Act, yet businesses that provide cannabis to patients are being raided and shut down sixteen years after this law was passed. As reported in October of 2011, the DOJ has decided to target landlords and property owners who rent buildings or land where dispensaries sell or cultivators grow marijuana, which is the exact opposite of what our current President promised about not “using Justice Department Resources to circumvent state laws.”