With Bryan Cohen and Alex Garland reporting
Protesters targeted 23rd and Union’s Uncle Ike’s I-502 marijuana shop Wednesday afternoon, disrupting business on 4/20, the biggest stoner shopping day of the year.
“The most important thing he could do, and I know this is harsh, is move,” performer Draze told the large assembly of media as groups met at Garfleld Community Center for the march a few blocks north to Uncle Ike’s.
Draze’s recently released album features Irony on 23rd, a scathing rap about Uncle Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg and the history of segregation and heavy anti-drug policing in the area.
Draze tells CHS that he has been told accounts of the impact of increased marijuana use on students at Garfield High. “We have seen an uptick in marijuana use since he’s been there,” Draze said he has been told.
As he watched a few dozen protesters link arms to block of his 4/20 party entrance Wednesday, Eisenberg was mostly nonplussed.
“Hey, it’s 4/20, everybody should be having fun celebrating,” Eisenberg told CHS. The business owner and real estate investor has made I-502 retail a major part of his recent investments as a new Capitol Hill shop is set to open in a building Eisenberg owns on 15th Ave E.
Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.
Part of Eisenberg’s relative nonchalance might be chalked up to his legal victory over nearby Mount Calvary Christian Center which had its lawsuit against Uncle Ike’s dismissed in early 2015. He also weathered a similar protest but much larger crowd earlier this year when MLK Day marchers rallied in the shop’s parking lot to protest a white business owner selling marijuana on a corner known for black residents getting arrested for illegally doing the same thing. That rally, by the way, was marred by allegations of anti-semitic remarks by some of the protesters against Eisenberg.
Uncle Ike’s debuted in September 2014 during the city’s first wave of I-502 retail pot openings. With concerns about a “Little Amsterdam” developing in the area and objections from the church, the store has faced legal challenges and protest from those who see it as a symbol of gentrification and racism on a corner associated with arrests and the impact of the “war on drugs” on the black community. In August 2015, protesters also surrounded the store. Last September, a second pot store opened in the area as Ponder debuted just blocks from Uncle Ike’s.
— Bryan Cohen (@bchasesc) April 20, 2016
Earlier this year, the Seattle City Council voted to regulate an expansion of the zones in the city where legal pot stores and facilities can operate as the state prepares to merge retailers and medical providers under the same rules.
The local wing of the NAACP also continues to challenge the legality of the business. “These types of stores, weed stores, that doesn’t happen in white neighborhoods,” Sheley Secrest, the vice president and Chair of Economic Development for the Seattle King County chapter of the NAACP told the Seattle Globalist. “Mothers, parents, everyone would be outraged at the idea of a store selling these types of drugs within a 500 foot you know radius of where children hang out,” she said.
— NAACP AOWSAC (@NAACPAKORWA) April 20, 2016
Wednesday, Eisenberg said the ongoing arguments about youth and the church’s teen center should end.
“It’s an empty building,” Eisenberg said. “Ask anybody that is from the CD, that’s part of the CD — there is no teen center out there. And we went through the lawsuit and they didn’t win.”
There's a protest going on right now but we're still open!! Come on by we will help you jump the fence ?
— Uncle Ike's (@UncleIkes206) April 21, 2016