DENVER -- The former organizer of the 420 Rally says the City of Denver targeted him and orchestrated a public relations campaign designed to prevent him from hosting future public events.
These claims are detailed in a lawsuit that was filed by Miguel Lopez against the City and County of Denver on Monday. Lopez has been running the annual festival celebrating marijuana in Civic Center Park since 2008.
After the most recent rally, Denver7 and other media outlets reported on the trash that was left behind on April 21. Organizers still maintain trash was put in bags but suggest someone went around the park overnight and ripped those bags open. They also add all the garbage was cleaned up by their permit deadline.
Lopez accuses Mayor Michael Hancock of waging a war on marijuana and ultimately, targeting him.
The lawsuit states politicians have a "long-simmering" hatred of Lopez and the issues he stands for. It goes on to say the city attempted to ruin his reputation by highlighting misleading snapshots of trash in the park.
Lopez argues he went above and beyond to make sure everything was cleaned up. He insists he did nothing wrong and is fighting to host the event again.
"We’re the only event that every year we power washed it completely only because out of the fact that we know that we’re very heavily criticized," said Lopez.
City officials slapped organizers with more than $12,000 in fines, took away his priority status for hosting events, and banned them from holding the event for three years. A hearing officer for the City of Denver upheld that decision in November after Lopez filed an appeal.
Lopez said the lawsuit was the next step and he ultimately wants to get the permit back.
The lawsuit also says the media was directed by the City of Denver to take pictures of trash during the permitted clean-up effort.
"But as far as the details we did not leave that park trashed, we went along with the plan and there was nothing that we did wrong," said Lopez.