Lewisham neighbourhood in central London was the arena of a strange symbolic confrontation between marijuana proponents and law enforcement. Several advertising panels were used to plant advocacy posters openly challenging legitimacy of the anti-marijuana legislation and calling out the police. The poster in question belongs to the series developed by the activist magazine STRIKE!, although the publication denies any responsibility for the act other than instructing its followers to take direct action through the media.
Advertising space that was used to spread the message belongs to the CLEAR company, which claims the utilities have been hijacked by unknown intruders. The company removed the offending materials rather than wait for the police to do so, but not before the entire episode caused a lot of commotion. In addition to text outlining the hypocrisy of arresting marijuana users while condoning drinking, the posters also contained incendiary slogan ACAB – short for “All cops are bastards”. Numerous passers-by took their opportunity to make photos of the posters, spreading the word about the initiative on the social networks within hours (see picture below).
London police quickly took notice and sent out personnel to guard the posters, without any clear indication what they intend to do about them. Such a timid reaction represented another small victory for the activists, as confused officers standing near the advertising panels only added to the scenery. While the posters were eventually removed and state of normalcy re-established, the entire action is a great example of turning the mainstream media against the ruling opinion. To be sure, the operation was clearly illegal and perpetrators could face legal penalties if detected, but this is far from a foregone conclusion as no organization stepped forward to claim responsibility.
In a time when marijuana laws are being challenged around the world, residents of Lewisham set a golden standard for citizen activism that will likely be used as inspiration elsewhere. To cap it all, they did it with a dose of humour!
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