By John Lindblom – Record-Bee staff
UPPER LAKE Upper Lake farmer’s market organizer Jill Perry served notice on Wednesday that if hemp book author/pot activist Jack Herer and his wife Jeannie attempt to open a booth at the market today she will call for intervention by Lake County law enforcement officers.
Perry’s vow followed a tumultuous Wednesday in which she made two impromptu visits to the Upper Lake home of “The Emperor Wore No Clothes” author and reopens the possibility of the once-postponed showdown matching the Herers against Perry and other citizens on Upper Lake’s Main Street.
At the heart of the issue is the Herers’ display of hemp/pot leaves on T-shirts they have sold and intend to sell at their farmer’s market booth beginning at about 4 p.m. today. Last Thursday, Perry, the farmer’s market co-founder, said she didn’t like the T-shirts with the leaf emblazoned on them, but did not act on her objections. Now she says the Herers can sell the T-shirts, but must keep them out of sight.
Perry said she called upon the Herers believing that a face-to-face meeting might serve as an olive branch in the battle over the pot leaf. It wasn’t. Jeannie Herer, in fact, issued her own threat to call in law enforcement the next time Perry came to call.
Bringing Blue Wing Saloon and Cafe manager Roland Hughes along on the second visit didn’t ease the tension. Given Hughes’ relative newness to Upper Lake, his involvement seemed an unlikely occurrence.
“They came over here a second time without calling, with this guy Hughes,” Jeannie Herer said. “He said he was trying to resolve this, but I ended up really mad and they ended up giving my money back and saying I can’t come (to the farmer’s market) tomorrow. He’s the one who handed my money to me and said, I’m sorry you can’t be reasonable.”
Hughes, contacted late Wednesday, said he had no idea that the issue was so charged and regretted getting involved.Perry said that Hughes had been one of about 20 people at what she described as a meeting of the Community Council which she heads on Tuesday night, where she raised the issue of the shirts displaying a leaf.
“I decided I wasn’t going to have them (Herers) back and that’s what I told the people at the meeting,” Perry said. “Someone else said, Let’s try something else. Let them come in, but don’t show the pot and stuff.
“So, I thought maybe if I just went over and talked to them and told them what the Community Council said that they could put up a sign with the name of their book and the author, they could put up hats and they could sell T-shirts, but they had to be left in a box.
“They (the Herers) then proceeded to throw a fit.”
Jeannie Herer acknowledged that her husband was “frothing at the mouth” when Perry left. She added that in no way would she and Jack adhere to Perry’s caveat of keeping the T-shirts out of sight.
“They told me I can’t hang up my shirts where kids can see them,” said Jeannie. “I’m just exercising my freedom of speech. They can’t stop me from doing that or from selling my wares.”
Perry said she can and that she had called the sheriff on Wednesday “and got a feeling for what my rights are.”
Lake County Counsel Cameron Reeves said he could not specifically address the issue, but gave general guidelines that may fit the situation.
“I’m not familiar with their (Perry’s) organization, but I’m assuming they’re either an unincorporated association or a nonprofit. I assume also they have a permit. The only comment I can make is that if something is not illegal or an obscenity and if they don’t have any bylaws or something telling people ahead of time what you can and cannot have (at a booth), I think you would be hard pressed to discriminate against people based on what they’re showing.”
Jeannie Herer said she was asked only to fill out applications for the Upper Lake Wild West Days and the farmer’s market.
“I paid $20 for the Wild West’ booth and $10 a week for the farmer’s market,” she said, “and I signed little forms putting in my phone number and what I would be selling. On one I wrote My husband’s books and junk,’ and the other I wrote, My husband’s books and stuff.’ No one asked me any more than that.”
Perry says she has read Jack Herer’s book via the Web in the week since the last farmer’s market and was favorably impressed that “it is exactly what it says it is the history of hemp.” To give the story a strange twist, Perry also purchased a hat from the Herers.
But all good will ends there. Perry took exception to a public remark by Jack Herer that the Upper Lake group was being “un-American” and showing a lack of education in its stand.
“I didn’t say anything against them,” she said. “That’s fine if that’s how they feel, but I’m anything but un-American and I am educated.
“The only thing I have against what they’re doing is the visualization of the pot plant itself. I don’t want this confrontation, but on the other hand if I don’t have any choice …”
She added, “I gave back their money. Too bad they won’t be there, but they probably will be. If they come and there is a confrontation, verbal or otherwise, I can call the Sheriff’s department.”
“We’re coming,” said Jeannie Herer.