Nimbin's Benny Zable protests outside the Lismore Courthouse.
Nimbin's Benny Zable protests outside the Lismore Courthouse. The Northern Star

Mardi Grass ultimatum

ORGANISERS of next weekend's Mardi Grass in Nimbin came to Lismore yesterday with a message for police: Come to Nimbin's annual festival in peace, or stay away.

At a street protest outside Lismore Courthouse, the marshal of the Mardi Grass parade used a loud hailer to make his point. Graeme Dunstan's voice penetrated well into the building and police station next door.

During an impassioned address he urged Richmond Local Area Commander, Superintendent Bruce Lyons, to come to Nimbin next weekend and listen to drug experts talk about deregulation of cannabis.

Dr Alex Wodak, director of the Drug and Alcohol Service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, and Paul Dillon from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, will take part in the forum.
 
"Take some stress leave and come to Nimbin and enjoy the company of relaxed locals and listen to the views expressed at the forum," Mr Dunstan advised Supt Lyons.

Mr Dunstan also attacked the April Fool's Day raid on Nimbin where 50 police converged on the town's Hemp Embassy, museum and Hemp Bar.

"It was such an overkill operation and designed to frighten people away from this year's Mardi Grass," Mr Dunstan said.

Eight people were arrested and police seized four kilos of cannabis, as well as cannabis cookies and smoking implements.

Those charged that day have yet to appear in court.
The April Fool's Day raid involved police from Sydney's riot squad and dog squad.

"It was so heavy-handed that it's clear they were sending a message," Mr Dunstan said.

"But Supt Lyons is a deluded person if he thinks he can suppress Nimbin. The citizens of our ever-lovin' town will be out on the streets this Sunday to demonstrate how they feel."

Mr Dunstan said the April Fool's Day raid and subsequent busts were pointless.

"They only ever get the little fish, including black fellas and Nimbin street people," he told The Northern Star.

Mr Dunstan said he'd received a letter from police advising them the Mardi Grass parade could go ahead as long as it followed three pages of conditions.

The president of Nimbin's Hemp Embassy, Michael Balderstone, said such raids and arrests were pointless, usually ending only in fines for those involved.

"It's a waste of money and has a bad effect on police-community relations."

Richmond Local Area Crime manager, Detective Acting Inspector Mick Smith, said police were not trying to keep people away from the festival.

"We want to ensure a safe festival, but we warn people attending that if they are detected to be possessing or supplying a prohibited drug they will be dealt with by the law."

Insp Smith said police might attend the drug seminar.

"There will be a number of police in the town during the festival and it's likely some will attend the forum," he said.

"But there will be an appropriate policing response on the weekend, based on previous Mardi Grass festivals and that will include a number of different policing facets."


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