Protesters marched on Byron Bay's police station on Friday morning, just in
time to make their point to swarms of visitors descending on the coastal
haven for the annual International East Coast Blues and Roots Festival.

The Bay's reputation as a peaceful, tolerant community was being
threatened, protesters said, by an incident last month in which
plain-clothes police officers used sniffer dogs to search people on the
street for marijuana.

The Mayor, Councillor Tom Wilson, said the three-day crackdown on marijuana
came "out of the blue". More than 50 people were searched in a surprise
move by a local command Cr Wilson said had been tolerant of marijuana.

"I don't take a stance on drugs either way because that's not the platform
I was elected on, but the use of sniffer dogs on the streets is a breach of
civil liberties," he said.

Cr Wilson said it was regrettable the incident had happened just before the
Blues Festival, one of Byron Bay's best drawcards.

The event - featuring Taj Mahal, Midnight Oil, Kasey Chambers, Joan
Armatrading, Emmylou Harris and Ben Harper - was sold out by Thursday.

Newshawk: Australian Autohawk
Pubdate: Sat, 14 Apr 2001
Source: Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)
Copyright: 2001 The Sydney Morning Herald
Author: Stephanie Peatling
Bookmark: (Cannabis)