Singer Busted at Philly Pot Protest

Emily Yates
Emily Yates being arrested at the Liberty Bell.

The 8th Smoke Down Prohibition rally at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia on Aug. 30 resulted in the usual citations for marijuana smoking at 4:20 pm. But the arrest of folk singer/activist Emily Yates in the park remains particularly perplexing.

After a long discussion with Park Police about her right to remain in Independence Park with her banjo, Yates was grabbed by four officers and cuffed as she screamed, "Help! Help!" and cried, "I haven't done anything illegal!"

According a PhillyNORML press release: "Emily Yates, a musician and anti-war activist, was scheduled to perform her song 'I’d Rather Be High (Than an Asshole…)' but she was arrested and jailed by Park Rangers before the rally began."

Yates, who was charged with resisting arrest, failure to obey law enforcement officers and disorderly conduct, was released from jail on Sept. 3 on $25,000 bond. In the criminal complaint, police maintain  Yates "was standing in an area closed to the public inside the Park," and that she scratched, bit and spit at them.

Five citations for possession of a controlled substance were issued. Among those cited were PhillyNORML co-chair Chris Goldstein and Libertarian Party candidate for New Jersey Senate Don Dezarm. Since both were also cited at previous Smoke Downs, "Authorities are not allowing Goldstein and Dezarn to pay a simple fine but are requiring them to appear in Eastern District Federal Magistrate Court to face the charge. Their court dates have not been set," the press release adds. Yates was released from jail on Sept. 3.

Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.