After two unrelated violent attacks in Denver’s 16th Street Mall in just over a week, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock is blaming the assaults on a recent influx of cannabis tourists. The rise in what Hancock calls “urban travellers” are, according to the mayor, “one of the results of the legalization of marijuana in Denver, and we’re going to have to deal with it,” as reported by The Cannabist.
The most recent incident occurred last Wednesday and involved a man seemingly in the throes of a psychotic episode, attacking random pedestrians with a large plastic pipe. The attack was captured on video, uploaded, and can be found below. The man, Clarence Seeley of Indiana, was later arrested, charged with aggravated assault, and connected with at least four other incidents on the same day.
Embed please: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFabtDYwphs
Just over a week previous, another incident occurred where a mob of “travelers” attacked a businessman in the same mall, as reported by KDVR.
The mall being a popular hotspot for visitors and locals alike, local police and the mayor’s office are showing great concern for the safety of people in Denver. Part of their reaction is to increase security, adding both police foot patrols and private security guards to the area.
But the other part is to blame, rightly or wrongly, the city’s legal cannabis market. Denver Police Chief Robert White is urging local dispensaries to cease the sale of single joints, a product they feel caters to, and attracts, some less than desirable people.
Mayor Hancock is making no bones about where the blame lies for these violent episodes. In a press conference, Hancock called the travellers a “scourge of hoodlums” and claimed the dope fiends were not only a public hazard, but were “taking beds from our chronically homeless people.”
All of this maybe more or less accurate, but some of Hancock’s information seems like it comes more from the gut than hard data. He claims, in the words of the Denver Post, that he “personally talked to some and they were candid about the attraction of marijuana,” but it’s unclear whether he means he talked to the people who committed these violent acts and they told him they came to Denver for the legal bud, or if he means that he talked to some law abidng tourists on the street who told him that they came to town to try the city’s famous dank strains. So, the mayor’s blame game, while likely well intentioned, may be less than scientific.
Featured image from video shot by Caleb Bonham