Protesters representing an array of organizations including Africatown, the Black Book Club, the NAACP and Mount Cavalry Christian Center marched from Garfield Community Center to 23rd Avenue and Union Street to protest Uncle Ike’s, a popular pot shop and destination for legal recreational marijuana.
For hours, protesters linked arms and chanted “Uncle Ike’s Has Got to Go” and “This Shop is Closed” to block customers from entering the Uncle Ike’s 4/20 festival. Some customers managed to get in by jumping over the fence, but the majority were deterred by the protest.
Uncle Ike’s, located where many young African Americans were arrested for selling pot over the past decades, has become a symbol of gentrification and a lightning rod for protest, with artist Draze producing a single about it called “Irony on 23rd” and artist Spekulation also addressing it in his song “Uncle Ike.”
Uncle Ike’s, with its huge neon signs and street party vibe, is just a few feet from Mount Calvary and across the street from the church’s teen center, which Pastor Reggie Witherspoon argued would not be allowed in other neighborhoods.
For many protesters, Uncle Ike’s is a manifestation of national and local racial inequities in drug policy and enforcement, with the now-legal recreational marijuana business making millions while African Americans and Latinos remain incarcerated for low-level drug offenses.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated from its original publication to clarify a story caption. The original caption with the photo of Michael Moynihan read: “Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, struggles to avoid being crushed by party fence after shop staff try to push it back towards Uncle Ike’s. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left.” The new story caption reads: “Activist Michael Renaissance Moynihan, middle left, pushes in Uncle Ike’s party fence, then struggles to avoid being crushed by the fence when shop staff try to push it back the other way. Owner Ian Eisenberg is third from the left.”