Village council condemns public ‘marijuana’ protest

By Graham Jaehnig and Kali Katerberg

Houghton Daily

Mining Gazette

CALUMET — The Calumet Village Council passed a resolution at its regular monthly meeting, condemning a group of protesters who organized and demonstrated on the night of Dec. 13 to protest the Council’s decision not to act in regards to the Medical Marijuana Act. According to Nathan Anderson, a Calumet Village resident, there were actually a number of gatherings, assembling at various locations in the village.

One group of protestors gathered at Zen Garden on Sixth Street, then proceeded to Pine Street to the residences of Village President Dave Geisler and Trustee Virginia Dwyer.

The resolution stated that the intention of the protestors was intimidate and harass the village officials.

“These actions,” the resolution states, “including trespassing on private property, creating a threatening environment by loudly pounding on the president’s, and the trustee’s, front door repeatedly, screaming for them to come out of their homes, approaching their homes to peer through their windows, blocking traffic, and other acts.” Both Dwyer and Geisler stated at the meeting that they feared for their safety as a result of the protest.

“To protect the elected officials of Calumet, as well as the residents of the village,” the resolution stated, “these actions resulted in the Calumet Village Police, Laurium Village Police, and the Michigan State Police having to respond to calls from the village president and Trustee Dwyer, and to patrol in the early hours of the morning.”

The resolution, as read, alleges other accusations against Anderson and the protestors before reaching its conclusion.

“Be it resolved that this village council condemns the actions of Nathan Anderson, the owners of Zen Garden, and their supporters,” the resolution states. “This village will not tolerate intimidation and harassment of its elected officials. The Village Council further condemns any attempts to intimidate and harass the elected officials and representatives of the village cease immediately.”

The resolution passed a vote of four to two, with Trustees Peggy Germain and James Camps voting no, citing a lack of solid evidence of the allegations at the time of the meeting.

Anderson said he found the council’s actions retaliatory, defamatory, slanderous, and extremely repugnant. He said he appreciates the council members who did not the support the resolution.

“The Public’s effort to keep open not only the Zen Garden in Calumet, but also U.P. Caregivers, began on Dec. 9,” Anderson said. “Patients, caregivers, and citizens expressed their disappointment that the village, led by Virginia Dwyer, would not take any action to allow the Zen Garden to comply with state law, effectively shutting down Calumets only dispensary.”

Anderson went on to state the position of the protestors.

“They got together, not only at the Zen Garden but other Calumet businesses,” he said, “with a plan to make one last plea to keep the Zen Garden open.”

Anderson said the council’s allegations were insulting, not only to him, but the many who wished to exercise their right to protest.

“The group that night was extremely diverse,” Anderson said. “There were disabled, healthy, young, old, rich and poor.”

The group was much larger than those who had made the march, Anderson said, and those who made the march chanted, laughed and expressed their frustrations.

“I was deeply touched by their sense of community,” Anderson said. “They called out to Dave to call an emergency meeting just as Portage Township had the night before.”

Video posted on social media, in fact, shows that the group was large. It also reveals that while the vast majority of the protestors chanted “Call the meeting,” while standing on the public sidewalk, there were a number who did, in fact, congregate in the directly in front of Geisler’s front porch. The video shows one woman pounding on the front door.