PRESS RELEASE: Rachel Donlan Seeks Formal Assault Claim Against Rep. Andy Harris For Slamming Door On Her

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 4, 2018

CONTACT:
ADAM EIDINGER (202)744-2671
Adam@DCMJ.org
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369
Kris@MDMJ.org

Rachel Donlan Seeks Formal Assault Claim Against Rep. Andy Harris For Slamming Door On Her

Photos Show Ms. Donlan Bruises

Harris Statement Claims of ‘Physical Confrontation’ Mistakes Free Speech and Normal Business of Lobbying Congress

WASHINGTON, DC – When cannabis reform activists from DC Marijuana Justice (“DCMJ”) and Maryland Marijuana Justice (“MDMJ”) visited Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-01) at 12:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 2,  2018 at his Washington, DC office at 1533 Longworth House Office Building,  they had planned to enter his public office and attempt to speak to the Congressman or protest him for ignoring numerous requests to listen to bonafide medical marijuana patients.  This had been announced over two weeks prior after multiple letters, physically visiting his office, and calls to his office by MDMJ volunteers requesting a scheduled meeting with medical marijuana patients were never acted upon.

At the August 10 town hall meeting in Salisbury, Maryland, Rep. Harris gave a pledge to Ms. Rachel Ramone Donlan to have a meeting concerning medical marijuana, so when she saw him walking down the hallway towards his office, she believed he was going to finally talk to her. As Ms. Donlan tries to speak to Rep. Harris, not touching him or yelling at him, she rushes to follow him into his public office not knowing he was entering through a private side door. Instead of welcoming her or saying anything to anyone present, he slammed the door in her face, and physically hurt her leg and knee.  Ms. Donlan, who is disabled, weighs about 90 lbs, and suffers from Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is a genetic connective tissue disorder that causes her intense physical pain.  She has been consuming medical marijuana since 2011 for pain relief and as a result is opioid-free.

“I was trying to speak to the Congressman about how cannabis saved my life,” said Ms. Donlan, “but instead of pausing to listen, he slammed the door on my leg and knee.” Ms. Donlan proceeded to stage an “overdose” outside of Rep. Harris’ office and in order to deal with the physical pain caused by the congressman and his staff, she lit up a joint and was arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police for consumption of marijuana.  “Rep. Harris would rather people take pills than utilize the healing properties of cannabis,” concludes Ms. Donlan.

For over four years cannabis reform advocates have sought meetings with Rep. Harris and for four years he’s been evasive, misleading, and outright hostile to cannabis reform advocates. Tuesday’s incident only showed how far out of his way Rep. Harris would go to avoid civilized debate: he hid in his office like a coward. Twenty minutes later Rep. Harris came outside of his office with the U.S. Capitol Police, he couldn’t even identify the person who allegedly assaulted him.  He did recognize Adam Eidinger, his favorite medical marijuana constituent. Rep. Harris proceeds to claim he hurt his wrist slamming the door and goes on to spin his cowardice as political violence in a Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, but Rep. Harris’ negligent action of slamming his office door on Ms. Donlan resulted in bruising to her leg and knee.  A formal assault claim was began today against Rep. Harris with the U.S. Capitol Police by Ms. Donlan’s attorney Mark Goldstone.

Initial Reports of Protest Violence in the Media Were Misleading or False

For weeks MDMJ and DCMJ reached out to journalists about our upcoming demonstration at Rep. Harris’ public offices in his district and Washington, DC. We sent out press releases and called journalists and we received silence. “When the demonstration finally happened as a last resort, we ended up with misleading and fake news.” says Ms. Kris Furnish, cofounder of MDMJ and a constituent of Rep. Harris who lives in Salisbury, Maryland.  

From breathless headlines like “Protesters Try To Break Down Md. Congressman’s Office Door” from Baltimore’s CBS affiliate to Fox News, which even went so far as incorrectly saying a Twitter account “Dank City Growers” was behind the demonstration. A simple Google search and a few minutes watching the live-stream would have shown a much different picture.  “Journalists need to do a better job at hearing both sides of a story before tweeting incorrect information or writing a one-sided story. We had a statement available online but instead of including ours, CNN used only Rep. Harris’ misleading statement and in doing so missed the point of why we wanted to speak to Rep. Harris in the first place,” said Ms. Furnish, who is 28 years old and is one of the two arrestees outside Rep. Harris’ office.

“These protests wouldn’t be necessary if someone would just sit down with us advocates. We’ve tried to meet with Rep. Harris and he and his staff won’t get back to us,” continues Ms. Furnish, “Even after multiple polite attempts to meet with him and leaving message after message with his staff, a Rep. Harris staffer we encountered outside Harris’ office had no idea who we were or why we were there and proceeded to meet with medical industry representatives,” said Ms. Furnish. “It’s not plausible they didn’t know we were coming, and the whole thing felt like a set up. The reason we told the media we were coming was the hope that Rep. Harris would actually meet with us to discuss cannabis as a treatment for opioid addiction- a topic Rep. Harris mention in a press statement his office released last Friday. We would still like to meet with him and tell the story of medical marijuana patients like Ms. Donlan,” concludes Ms. Furnish.

Members of the media may contact Adam Eidinger at 202-744-2671 or by email at Adam@DCMJ.org with inquiries. Rachel Donlan’s injury photos are available by request only for accredited media only.

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Photos from #OverdoseHarris Demonstration:

Rep. Harris outside his office unable to identify activists who allegedly assaulted him


DCMJ volunteer Rachel Donlan participating in a die-in outside of Rep. Harris DC office


DCMJ Phrygians in the hallway outside Rep. Harris office


Over 20 volunteers from MDMJ showed up to Rep. Harris Salisbury Office


Rep. Harris' staffer finally comes out to tell everyone to disperse and that he'd meet with only 6 members of MDMJ


MDMJ activists outside Rep. Harris Salisbury office waiting for a meeting


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