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Happy 4/20? Protest again targets Central District’s Uncle Ike’s

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.

“That directly ties to the issue we’re talking about.”

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.

A petition being circulated at Wednesday's protest

A petition being circulated at Wednesday’s protest

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.

CgheAq9UIAIXZR0Earlier 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.

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.”

UPDATE 5/19/2016: Here’s one thing that came out of the protest. Draze just dropped a new video for Irony on 23rd:

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46 thoughts on “Happy 4/20? Protest again targets Central District’s Uncle Ike’s

  1. After reading the article, I still can’t figure out what it is that these numbnuts are protesting, and my guess is that they don’t even know themselves. Whatever it is, I’m not more sympathetic after getting stuck in the traffic jam caused by their little street party, I mean protest.

    • Hint: its because they are anti semtic (as well as homo and transphoboic)

      Also can we just get over this; the central district is not a black ghetto any more and will never be again.. get used to it.

  2. The NAACP needs a bit of a reality check on this – “These types of stores, weed stores, that doesn’t happen in white neighborhoods”. That is very funny, the CD is a white neighborhood… it used to be black neighborhood, but not any more… and not for quite a while.

    • Not to mention…there are weed stores all over the Seattle area in so-called “white” neighborhoods, like the one on 15th, and Ike’s soon-to-be 2nd one on 15th, and…..

      Basically, they’re just full of crap.

    • ummm… yeah… 65th AVE NW, has two pot shops between 3rd and 8th… just blocks from Ballard Highschool… pretty white, pretty close to kids…

      just sayin’

  3. It’s funny how none of these people were protesting against the illegal behavior or shootings that this intersection used to be known for. Totally ok with that weren’t they?

    And that Draze song about uncle Ike’s is so lame. Kexp wouldn’t be playing someone else without so little flow if it didn’t feed into these protestors narrative.

    • Yes! Tax the church. Can anyone name one positive thing that church has done for the neighborhood? They are so detached for the neighborhood that they didn’t even know the pot shop was going in right next door until it was open. I see that the pastor drive a late model Mercedes ,parks on a brick inlaid cross and wears super fancy suits. It’s time for their tax free ride to come to an end.

  4. Years of drug use, drug sales and prostituion at MidTown Center right next door to both the church and where Ike’s is now has been ignored by the church. This protest is ridiculous, and should be directed at the Bangassers and MidTown Center for allowing drug dealers to sell illegally to youth on their property.

    • It’s kind of like protesting the death of one person at the hands of the police all the while ignoring the 100’s killed in gang warfare.

  5. “We have seen an uptick in marijuana use since he’s been there,”

    Correlation, causation.

    Though, certainly anecdotes aren’t science either.

  6. That said, while I don’t think the protests are targeting the right cause, I understand them.

    The antisemitism on that end and the racist-ass comments here aren’t helping anyone.

  7. Wonderful to see the comments looking downright sympathetic to a capitalist who is creating value. The losers and whiners who are protesting are the racists (and antisemites to boot). If the owner of this store were black, he would be celebrated for his success. The CD is historically Jewish. Langston Hughes Center was a synagogue. These folks should be ashamed of themselves. Where were they when the corner was abandoned and the site of two murders in about as many years?

  8. The dude who wrote that Marshawn Lynch ‘Action Boss’ song also has a new tune about Uncle Ike’s. Equally lame. Dude is running out of material and it comes off as a desperate attention grab.

  9. Draze, protest the “coffee” kiosk over at MidTown. They have been selling pot out of there for years and years and years and years and years. Do they require and check for valid id there? Hmmm, maybe they have something to do with kids having pot… nah, couldn’t be, no way.

    How about protesting the open-air drug market at the south end of Powell Barnett Park? There was just a shooting there early this evening when the park was full kids… actual kids, not the phantom kids at the “youth center”.

    Hey, when the employees of Ike’s start gunning down rival pot shop employees please sing about that. I’ll start holding my breath right now.

  10. I want that church out of the neighborhood. What benefit has it brought?..in the years before Ikes did they do anything to improve the neighborhood…not that I could notice.

    Pick your battles. Or we can just return to the days of illegal drugs on that corner…oh wait, they would be marching and complaining then too.

    I wish I had been at uncle ikes that day for them to try to stop my entrance. I would call the police to get them arrested then bring them to court for violating my civil rights. I would bankrupt that ugly church for supporting fascism and racist organizations like the naacp.

    • I went there after work yesterday, I was called a sell-out, gentrifier, and white supremacist by different protesters while just trying to get in.
      Ikes security let me hop their fence since protesters blocked both the entrance and exit. classy folks…
      I did ask some of the protesters that were yelling at me if they knew that Ponder pot shop was a block away and why they aren’t blocking those doors, they didn’t even realize another shop was there. That’s how much they really think they know about their own community

  11. I was going to post about correlation/causation, but see someone beat me to it. I don’t see how an uptick (if indeed there is one) in MJ use in school kids is a result of Uncle Ike’s versus the legalization of MJ in WA state (and hence a relaxing of attitudes). Kids can’t get into Uncle Ike’s. Who are these protesters? Are they a “solution” in search of a problem?

  12. I don’t think any of these commenters are pretending to be liberal.

    The shift in tone of CHS comments is disturbing.

    • This story has garnered a lot of attention and is being visited by a lot of people stopping by to stir up shit. We’re taking care of obvious attempts to troll and make a scene. Same as ever.

    • Stir shit up? @JSeattle, I’ve posted really reasonable comments, you just delete.

      I really wish you were a little more transparent with all things on this site. The sponsored posts, your relations to with business owners, your own background. This is what real publications do.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing a better commenting system too. This is much too “curated”. Too influenced by local political connections you’re trying to maintain.

      Again, all the above is pretty fair to say. Don’t be that guy who deletes opinions you don’t agree with.

  13. Wait, where is this teen center? I haven’t been a GHS parent for 4 years now, but I don’t remember a teen center next to the Ike’s location.

    • It belongs to the church and is across the street from it; I think it’s called “Joshua Teen Center” or something like that. Only thing is, nobody’s ever actually seen any teens using it any time in the last few (many?) years. Basically it’s a derelict building with a “teen center” sign on it. The church already tried to sue Uncle Ike’s based on the presence of the teen center, then quietly dropped the lawsuit. Presumably because they had no case.

  14. Funny How that church didn’t give a crap when that corner was an open air drug market with violence just about every weekend.

    • Just because you didn’t witness the church “give a crap” doesn’t mean they weren’t impacted by drugs and violence. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence my friend.

  15. My wife and I were in Seattle from far out of town on 4/20 without a plan. We wanted to find glass bong from a local glass artist. We usually can’t afford the nice local stuff and waited for this day to get the best deals.

    Uncle Ike’s was the only one that bothered to advertise 4/20 deals online, and had local glass, and looked like a nice building.

    Our plan was to go get a new bong. Then go find the closest cheap family restaurant.

    We get there and a bunch of people are protesting and not letting people in.

    I asked a few people, if I can’t shop here, then where can we go? Nobody had a single suggestion on a local spot to buy quality glass. We gave up. We got in our car and drove 4 hours home and got food out of town.

    Now we have to buy some glass from china because the deals are over. Thanks a lot stupid protesters. Sorry, you want to keep the neighbourhood shitty and not support local businesses, or artist.

    We had to park next to some tent city. The place they want to protect is a dump. I feel bad for homeless people, but that is a bigger problem and should not hold back property development.

    • Don’t worry about it, these protesters are stuck in the past and much like many far right protesters they lack a grasp on the wave of demographics and economics that does not care about their SJW bend.

    • That sounds like a serious personal tragedy. Inconvenienced and forced to buy your bong at a cheaper price on the internet? I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Does Ike’s actually sell local artisan glass bongs? Just curious! Weed makes me paranoid so I won’t be visiting Ike’s, but that’s interesting (if true) that they’re supporting local glass folks. Can anyone verify?

  16. The irony with all this protesting is it ends up being advertising for Unkle Ikes. News articles, blog posts and protests like these probably just bring more attention and business Unlce Ikes way.

    My friend from Mill Creek came over last night and asked what was going on at that corner. I told him about Uncle Ikes, etc and he (I sh*t you not) said oh, I’ll have to check that store out. I then said there is another pot store (Ponder) over here and he just shrugged.

    “any press is good press” — Keep protesting to help Uncle Ikes flourish and bring cool people to the area!

    • I spoke to several people in line who, like me, had intended to avoid the crowds that day and only came out specifically to show support for Ike’s because of the protest.

  17. HAHA

    If you hold a sign that says “gentrification=colonization” You are a d-bag.

    The CD was never a black neighborhood, it’s a neighborhood, people come, people go. If you do not invest in your area(ie buy land) don’t get pissy when someone else does…

    • The factual history is that the CD was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood back in the 1950s and earlier. Many of those families moved out, mainly to Seward Park, and at that point many black families moved in, because it was about the only area where they were “allowed” to own homes. So it was predominantly black in the 60s and 70s, but of course that it no longer true.

    • ” Many of those families moved out, mainly to Seward Park, and at that point many black families moved in, because it was about the only area where they were “allowed” to own homes. So it was predominantly black in the 60s and 70s, but of course that it no longer true.”

      Don’t forget that those black families moved in when the Japanese were hauled off to internment camps. How convenient of the protesters to omit this ugly piece of information. It is 20% black in the CD now. So it is currently no more a predominately black neighborhood anymore than a predominately Jewish or Japanese one. The protesters and their supporters are partaking in open history revisionism: they are wiping out the long multi-ethnic history of that neighborhood in favor of a myth that is was once “Africatown”. It was never a landing place for African diaspora like the ID was/is for Asians. They keep making it sound like it’s still predominately black and that the owner is not from that neighborhood, both being incorrect.
      Then they claim there is an operating teen center next door. This claim is false and the reason why the church’s lawsuit was dismissed. If is was true Ike’s would not have been able to open. The ease at which these people lie is truly chilling. They are as unhinged and racist as the worst Tea Partier or Trump supporter ever was. They are also open extortionists. They definitely have crossed many lines in ethical behavior. If these were Aryan Nation types behaving in this same way the city would have condemned it and made arrests (their behavior has crossed over to illegal on many occasions, see my comment below for a few examples.)

    • Juliana, Do you now that the lady assaulting the guy wasn’t charged? Anyone know who the guy was? Just curious.

      Thanks for bringing up the internment part of the neighborhood history. My aunt was interned and her family lost their business and home. I grew up next door to a lady that was able to hold on to her house through internment because she had no mortgage to default on, and a family friend held on to her savings and paid her property taxes during internment. The great majority of folks were not that lucky. She has some great photos of classes at GHS back then showing just how diverse the neighborhood once was.

  18. Interesting how someone who NEVER lived in the Central District has SO much to say about what is going in the Central Area. Draze is from the South-end! I wonder if he protested about Columbia City and the changes that happened there..

  19. I saw a video of this on youtube (link below). The rapper was filming in the middle of the street. At one point a white man walks through while it is being filmed and a black woman starts yelling at him and physically assaults him. In another video a rep for the NAACP (Sheley Seacrest) said the law isn’t being applied equally. She was referring to the accusation by protesters that there is a youth center where children congregate right next door. This has been exposed in court as being a lie. Why does the city give an enormous amount of funds to the NAACP and Africatown when they are so openly racist and dishonest?
    Ms Seacrest is correct though, just not in the way she claims. The protesters have broken the law many times but aren’t being held accountable for their crimes: The rapper didn’t have permits to film but were allowed to block off the street. Other people who film have to pay for this privilege and obtain permits. But they got it for free. A protester in the video assaults the guy, the police were there, it is caught on tape. Why wasn’t she charged with assault? There were racist comments spewed by the protester to Uncle Ike’s owner. I remember a case a few years ago when a white man was sentenced to 6 months in jail for calling a black parking attendant the “n” word. This incident was equally disturbing but the man who said it, Omari Garrett, is not only not arrested, but pandered to by the mayor and his organization gets city funds. He also has a history of anti-Asian racism and violence towards city officials. The protesters have openly made extortionist demands under vague threats. They have stated he is not allowed in that neighborhood because of his race. None of this is legal . Shelly is right, this isn’t equal application of the law.
    here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WlR42iV5Fog
    (The incident takes place within the first 3 minutes of the video)

  20. I wonder how Ian Eisner can continue to ignore and undermine his neighbors, underpay his employees, and spin all his toxic behavior into gold with the help of his media contacts? If anyone else broke the law and did not pay minimum wage, they would get a lot more than an “aw shucks” story in The Stranger.

    I hate to say it, but all the protestors are actually fueling the fire. After the last protest, he had a front page article in The Seattle Times. The real way to beat this guy is with your dollars and your sense. Don’t shop there, and let everyone know on his social media that you don’t support his shady business practices.