Sat, Dec. 07

Bath salt protest in Old Town

COTTONWOOD -- Protesters stood on the curb in Old Town Cottonwood in front of The Don's Friday to protest the smoke shop's sale of what are alleged to be bath salt-type synthetic drugs. The small group included residents of Old Town and members of the Yavapai substance abuse coalition, MATForce.

Protester Phillip Van Gorp said, "I work in Old Town and am sick and tired of people leaving their trash everywhere."

He is referring to the foil packets in which the product is sold. He said those packets have been discarded everywhere in Old Town.

"We clean it up on a regular basis," especially in the deep wash that runs behind the Boys and Girls Club center. "You look there right now and you will find a dozen of the packets in the wash. They leave here and get out of everyone's sight and go over to the wash to use it."

"This stuff is poison," said Ivan Anderson, a spokesman for MATForce. "They sell this stuff as bath salts or glass cleaner and they are saying it's not meant for human consumption, but that's exactly what it is. They know people are going to use this stuff. It's a chemically made drug that adds all kind of negative effects to the body and they have no problem selling the stuff."

People stood on the curb in the public rights of way. Several policemen were on hand. Chief Jody Fanning said they were just there to keep the peace, if needed.

The operators of The Don's say, "Their point to us is that it is legal and as long as it is legal, it is all right to sell ... even when we confront them with the fact that we believe it is harming people," according to Fanning.

One Old Town property owner brought the protesters cookies and said he supported the protest, as did a neighboring shop owner. But one woman was angry at the protesters saying the smoke shop has the legitimate right to operate a business.

Operators of the shop were not on hand for the protest.

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