Lookin’ Back on 1444 Market Street Final Raid

Agents Outside door at 1444 Market Street 5/1998

Back in 1998, even though Prop 215 had been around for a while, raids were still being conducted on places like Dennis Peron’s Cannabis Buyer’s Club  There weren’t many in the city/county of San Francisco at the time and Peron’s was the biggest.

It probably didn’t help matters that he was running for governor on the Republican ticket, in direct competition with then-California’s Attorney General Dan Lungren.

Mr. Lungren had taken Dennis to task before, just a few months previous he instructed local law enforcement to close the CBC down….and in a sense they did.  Actually they just sort of pushed a change forward that allowed Dennis more time to concentrate on his campaign.

Hazel Rodgers, one of Dennis’ long time friends and an historic figure in her own right,was given the reigns and title of Director of the newly named Cannabis Healing Center.  The transition had been beautiful!  We were all either herded out the building or met up with one another outside the building and just sort of stayed there.  Luckily the sidewalk outside 1444 Market was particularly wide, so we were able to stage kind of a sit-in, handle the press crunch and still allow pedestrians their right of way.  Now THAT’s how to have a protest!

Once the locals were done nosing around inside, they just kind of left.  John, Dennis’ right-hand person, got up inside the building through the rear fire escape then came to the front door and let everybody in.  John was good at those second story jobs!

The final raid was, to say the least, brutal and painful on all counts.  Apparently Mr. Lungren was pissed that Dennis’ campaign was not only still alive, it was picking up momentum. He dragged in the State law enforcement folks this time and pulled an early hours, jack-booted, thuggish raid; unnecessarily kicking down doors and destroying property.

Those who lived there, homeless A.I.D.S. and HIV patients that Dennis was housing on the residential floor, were forced to sit for hours in hand cuffs…unable to go to the bathroom or get dressed or anything while State law enforcement agents bullied and belittled them.

There was no need for what was done to those poor people, let alone what was done to the CHC.

To make a long story short, the entire building was closed down including Dennis’ access to his political headquarters in the basement and second floor office.   Some, including yours truly, questioned the legality of the raid and more importantly the attack on Dennis’ campaign headquarters, which though housed in the same building was operating completely separate from CHC activities.

With the closure of 1444 Market Street, approximately 140 patients died in the course of one year….some from their illnesses and inability to get medical cannabis, some through suicide. No one walked away from that raid unscathed.

Jane and several core volunteers got together and developed Compassion On Wheels (C.O.W.), a delivery service to help patients until something else could happen. It would be over a year before the S.F. Patients’ Cooperative, at first called the S.F. Patients Resource Center, would be up and running

So anyway, for today Fifty Five is the new Lookin’ Back….on 1444 Street Final Raid….isn’t it strange that this sort of thing is still happening today?

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