Thousands of marijuana enthusiasts will flock to the annual Freedom Rally on the Common this weekend, where revelers can listen to live music, buy a bong and freely smoke weed in public, despite a recent vow from police officials to crack down on drug use at the beloved park in the wake of a brazen shooting.
“We like to smoke weed — we figured, it was a cool event,” said Madison Robinson, who was among the scores of people puffing pot in the park yesterday during the 28th annual Boston Freedom Rally.
The three-day festival, which will continue today, features two stages where bands put on live performances and dozens of vendor stands where area businesses sold everything from bongs and bowls to grinders, jars and rolling papers. Chris Smith, who said he went to the rally yesterday to buy a bong, proudly told the Herald he’d already put his purchase to good use.
And though it’s illegal to smoke marijuana in public, a police spokesman said there were zero arrests and zero citations issued during the “peaceful” gathering yesterday, which occurred less than a week after the department vowed to add patrols and enforce a “zero tolerance” marijuana policy after a 19-year-old Hyde Park man was shot multiple times near the Parkman Bandstand Tuesday evening.
While announcing a “comprehensive approach” to addressing crime at the popular city park, Lt. Detective Michael McCarthy said the department will install security cameras, have two uniformed police officers on walking beats around the clock in three, eight-hour shifts, at both the Common and the Public Garden, and crack down on the sale and consumption of all drugs — including marijuana.
“It will be a zero-tolerance approach to violations, whether it’s smoking, or the sale and distribution of marijuana,” McCarthy said Thursday. “If that is witnessed, or observed, our undercover officers will act on that. We are not taking this lightly. There will be some changes made down there.”
There was minimal police presence inside the festival itself yesterday, with cops largely — and quietly — monitoring the event from the outskirts of the Common.
In a statement last night, a parks department official noted that although the city has legally challenged the event going back to the 1990s — and as recently as last year — the courts have allowed the gathering to continue.
“This is not an event that we endorse, as it is a direct affront to the enacted smoking ban in City…