No Kiffs, Plants, or Puffs Just Regular Ifs, Ands, or Buts
The infamy of the Görlitzer Park Marijuana Scene continues to grow bigger each day. A critical mass has been achieved, resulting in a ZERO TOLERANCE policy. For ultra-jaded kiez folk, the new laws are bittersweet, ending what had became a daily hassle, though not without throwing the baby out with bathwater (or in this case, throwing out the half-smoked joint with the ashtray.)
The day has finally come for the robust Ganja Trade of Görlitzer Park to meet its end. In no uncertain terms, All Matters THC have been decreed to be “Vegetata-Non-Grata“.
“No Kiffs, Plants, or Puffs”, let alone the more common “Ifs, Ands, or Buts”
Do Not Stop at Go, Do Not Collect Two Hundred Dollars...and proceed, DIRECTLY, to the jail house.
Yessir, no chance of sending out any “smoke signals”, even if your smoke is signaling Majestic Lord Shiva in a celebration of auspiciousness and gratitude.
All possible reasons, ways, rituals, ceremonies, and most certainly all recreational smoking of THC containing matter, is immediately forbidden.
Seriousness was clearly shown by the police with enhanced force added by a Zero Tolerance Policy. Although for locals, the new rules are more of a half-hearted, hare-brained, “too little, too late” attempt at appearing to be an engaging and dynamic tax payer-funded upholder of justice and protector of the streets.
While the operation's consequences were felt deeply by all members of the neighbourhood, the tactics used only ended up turning the once beautiful, jungle-like, walking paths of the park into ugly pockets of muddy clearings, broken only by even uglier pockets of even muddier empty landscape.
The new increase in open spaces has managed to create a super-brutal wind tunnel effect throughout the park, a long distance chute of rock walls and whistling dead bush trees, smelling of city gutter and muck. Gone are the sweet smelling wafts of dew-laced foliage, radiating intensely in the hot morning sunlight. Forever gone are the cave-like gauntlets of cobblestone and briar branch brush, and feeling wrapped up in the nature of the park's interior. No longer are you a human cell flowing through its inner arteries and organs of vegetal scenic diorama, spartan and splendour, tied together with landscaped lattice, bridge-ways, and promenades.
One can only shudder to think of the upcoming spring rains and the disastrous effects they will have upon the newly open air underbrush.
Similar to the tsunami's effect upon newly mangrove-less beach shores, nature tears a new asshole for the fresh earth now presented before its unyielding juggernaut of progressive decay and destruction.
Whereas there was steady work for the team of men whose job it was to manicure and prune the vegetation around the walkways of the park, things have changed. This hefty amount of manpower will now be spent on the constant upkeep of mud-clogged pathways, and never-ending erosion of existing landscapes due to previously non-occurring flash floods and drainage way formations.
Face it folks, we are going to have a messy, windy wasteland. It makes me sad. Surely, we will all miss the flowers, trees, bushes, shrubs, and so on. Oh well, I guess it was worth cutting them all down for the sake of safety and security.
A frightened public, spooked by the threat of drug-crazed, junkie, refugee drug dealers, and the whole unsavoury cavalcade of company members of an open air drug scene, has spoken.
No doubt the seas of strollers and kiddie-packed bicycle wagons will enjoy the slippery park roads, and will benefit from the influx of drug dealers who now congregate, operate, and violate the streets on which they live.
Not to worry about the out-of-control sprinting teenagers, drunk on adrenaline and whatever else, as their speeding bodies weave in and out between you and your children and your children's friends and parents, as you try to walk to and from various neighbourhood activities.
Are you now prepared to run a new kind of gauntlet consisting of unpredictable cat and mouse chases? Are you ready for a never safe atmosphere of spontaneous danger, where the city's junkies and partiers, shooting pinballs, like snakes in the grass, attempt to outwit and out run the greasy mean tentacles of the police?
The current state of affairs, as it stands, was the reason for having the April 1st Görlitzer Kiff-In.
Demonstrators formed a horseshoe around a PA system located at the bottom steps of the Old Water Park turned Amphitheater across from Edel Weiss and the Black Light Mini Golf. The PA system, powered by an automobile's inverter current, was blasting out a mix of highly-charged punk protest sounds and Demonstration Discussion of Points of Importance and Conflict. Several eloquent voices occupied the microphone and rapped about the wack logic of the new rules and obvious racist factors involved in the police's massive anti-ganja action.
I SPOKE TO AN UNDERCOVER POLICE OFFICERwho wished to remain anonymous even as he fell under my enchanting spell of curious inquisition and flattery. He revealed to me the various aims and goals of the police that day as well as their long-terms objectives and hopes.
“The upwardly mobile folks who now form an increasing number and who have an influential voice in community matters, have really pressed upon us to crush this dealer plague. These young, often hipster, go-getter, up and comer, freshly gifted with children folks. The taxes they pay make up the bulk of our wages, and if they say jump, we inevitably reply, how high. And so it is, that their number one request was to have this open air drug bazaar completely eliminated. Rather than pussy footing around the issue, which is really what we police had been doing, we have instituted this no tolerance policy, which we know will surely scare the shit out of anybody breaking the rules, and so, will prevent any future criminal activity.”
He seemed deadly sure of what he was talking about, and sealed in stone in my mind, any chance of weed smoking, buying, or possession in the park area.
Demonstrators who were present ran the gamut of demographics. From young to old, black to white, of all religions and faiths, and of course a totality of fashion sense-crafted wardrobe ensembles.
A crusty punk, embellished with a multitude of zippered jacket and pant pockets, proclaimed to any and all who cared to listen that, “this law won't change shit”. However, the majority of those in attendance shared the opinion that the new laws would completely change the way things operate in the park.
No more masses of dealers at decades-old determined points of pedestrian intersection. Furthermore, the scores of satellite roaming dealers would also cease to exist because the penalties now outweigh the earning potential of the dealers' game plans.
A well-seasoned player within the old hierarchy of the park dealer community explained to me how things used to be, how things had become, and how he thought things would be now.
USED TO BE:The Arabs had their spots, the Turkish could operate wherever they wanted, and the Africans had their spots. All of the groups also had satellite dealers who acted as lookouts and couriers. Those working in the park daily were under the wing of larger organisations, whose presence in the park was decades old and was both well-established and well-run. Smokers were free to smoke wherever they pleased, as long as they were a respectful distance from the cops and from groups of children.
HAD BECOME:A wild west of newcomers, free agents, and overwhelmed mid-level organisation bosses. Confusion, inconsistency, and fear were now the name of the game. And, due to the pushy vibe of the open air market scene, smokers and customers had become a bit more cagey and less willing to smoke openly in an area of potential flash police raiding.
WOULD NOW BE:In the beginning there will be a big shake up and many will be arrested and jailed for testing the waters of the new laws. When the smoke clears, most likely, the old gangs in charge will once again operate in the park, albeit with much more discretion and reduced numbers. Most free agents will be knocked out of the game or arrested, making the idea of dealing in the park a very unattractive option. Also, smokers are now on the same level as dealers, and everybody involved in THC becomes a criminal in the park.
Until the park numbers increase to their critical mass in summer time, it will be too obvious and too risky to smoke grass in the park as you had before. Perhaps once the park really fills up, it will be easier and more comfortable to light up.
One of the most heavily affected groups of people, the steady customers living at or near the park, went on to say that, “I've been buying grass across the street since I moved in three years ago; it's very fast and easy. I used to pay €50 when I first came, but now I pay €30 for the same amount. Unfortunately, my dealer told me that the prices will go up next week because of the higher risk involved. I came to the demonstration today to show solidarity with my fellow kiffers, and I hope that by coming together today, we can all show the neighbourhood, the police, and the city, that we are serious about our cause, and that we can no longer stand for the unfair racial profiling and persecution of people wanting to buy, sell, and trade THC medicines in the park. "We don't stand for this injustice!” His enthusiasm was contagious, his voice of passion striking a chord amongst his fellow demonstrators, soon we were all swept up in a wave of chanting,
“Smoke weed every day, down with the Police authority!”
This anti-authority chant seems a good time to mention the numbers and actions of the police in attendance.
A ring of CDU-funded foot soldiers surrounded the demonstration at its outer edges, some protesters within speaking range of these gun-toting emissaries of justice. It didn't take a betting man’s odds to surely wager that any escape would be impossible, if such urgent departure ended up occurring for the Ganja Friendly Medicine Men and Women in the park.
I worried most for those in attendance without proper identification. Several times I was snatched up and into a police wagon for being unable to produce a passport or Ausweis. While I had nothing to worry about as they checked out my story, my address, and whatever else they demanded I reveal to them, other folks might not be so lucky, especially if having open status crimes in the system, and/or, past due arrival dates as foreigners in Germany. Now my friend, those people, if asked to produce papers, and if unable to do so, would be seriously screwed. So yeah, I worried for those people.
In closing, the April 1st Kiff-In was an underwhelming showing for an issue which deeply affects so many people. An oversimplification might be to say that the small turn out was due to the nature of the Marijuana User, most potential demonstrators became distracted on the day of the demo, being sucked into some groovy bit of music, TV, or internet content. Other potential demonstrators began the day with a “wake and bake”, an act which seemed appropriate for the day's plan, but ended up sealing the fate of attending the demo due to the overwhelming effects of THC induced “couch lock“. And of course, a large percentage of people who had planned to go to the Kiff-In simply forgot.
If folks managed to drag themselves out of their clam-baked apartments, many turned tail due to the crappy weather. If the trip to the park didn't leave you soggy-shoed, spending more than 10 minutes at the demo, subject to swirling wet mists, was more than enough to sour even the most mellow of moods.
The new laws, and the Kiff-In protest against them – are just two more developments in this city which highlight an increasing divide amongst its dwellers. The city folks who tore down its cold war wall - enlivened and made strong by the power of unity - are now fast being split again, by the age-old forces of gentrification and political discord between the haves and the have nots. The battle for the Görli Grass Scene has been lost, but the war is not over.
Let the small numbers at the Kiff-In be a lesson to y'all. That if you want to make a difference, you have to participate.
By Morgan Hasenfuß