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A Yippie Veteran Is in Jail Far From the East Village

A Yippie Veteran Is in Jail Far From the East Village Colin Moynihan, New York Times

It has been more than 40 years since Dana Beal came to prominence as a theoretician for the Youth International Party, known as the Yippies, and embarked on a long career in the world of countercultural politics.

Since 1973, Mr. Beal and other Yippies have used a brick tenement on Bleecker Street, just west of the East Village, as a base for planning large-scale events, including demonstrations at national political conventions and worldwide marches calling for the legalization of medical marijuana, among other causes.

But Mr. Beal, 61, was far from the national stage last week when he found himself arrested on charges of money laundering in Mattoon, Ill., about 170 miles south of Chicago. He is being held in a county jail in nearby Charleston, awaiting an appearance before a judge on Thursday.

Ronald Tulin, a Charleston lawyer representing Mr. Beal, said that the police found his client with a large sum of cash, which was sniffed by police dogs.

“They’re saying the money smelled like marijuana,” Mr. Tulin said.

Mick McAvoy, the first assistant state’s attorney for Coles County, said that officers from the Mattoon Police Department arrived on June 3 at a restaurant to respond to a report that two women were fighting inside. The police determined that the women were traveling with two men, one of them Mr. Beal, in a van parked outside, he said.

Mr. McAvoy said witnesses told the police that Mr. Beal had placed bags beneath nearby vehicles. Mr. McAvoy said the police found two duffel bags containing more than $150,000 in cash. At that point, Mr. McAvoy said, a drug-sniffing dog was brought in to smell the bags.

A spokeswoman for the Coles County sheriff said that Mr. Beal was facing a charge of money laundering. He is being held in $250,000 bail.

A. J. Weberman, a fellow Yippie who helped to popularize the practice of garbology (searching through trash for journalistic clues), said Mr. Beal had told friends that he was traveling with cash because he was planning to finance a clinic. Mr. Weberman said the clinic was to study ibogaine, a derivative of an African shrub that researchers have said can be used to counter addiction.

Mr. Beal is a longtime advocate of ibogaine, which he says produces a trancelike state when ingested that lasts for hours and can be used to interrupt addiction to heroin, nicotine and alcohol.

With a bushy white moustache that makes him resemble a Civil War-era cavalry colonel, Mr. Beal is a well-known figure in the East Village, where he often roams the streets wearing a tan corduroy blazer and brown leather boots. Over the past several days, friends have been sending e-mail messages and posting notes online, trying to raise bail money.

“I’m giving the whole Internet a shout out to raise money,” said David Peel, a Yippie and musician from the East Village. “We don’t want to see Dana Beal entrenched in jail.”

Mr. Beal joined the Youth International Party shortly after it was formed in the late 1960s. While Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin were widely recognized as Yippie leaders during the fractious days of the Democratic National Convention in 1968, Mr. Beal emerged as one of the most visible leaders among slightly younger group members who called themselves Zippies.

Over the years, 9 Bleecker Street has served as a meeting place, teach-in center and editorial office. Newspapers called The Yipster Times and Overthrow have been published there. In 1981, a bomb was detonated outside the front door, injuring two police officers. The bomber was never arrested.

Lately, No. 9, as it is affectionately known, has experienced a renaissance. Mr. Beal brokered an agreement in 2004 in which a nonprofit partnership bought the building for just over $1 million and allowed the Yippies to continue operating there. Since then Mr. Beal has overseen renovations. The Yippies started a museum detailing their history inside the building in 2007 and turned the ground floor into a cafe and performance gallery.

John Penley, a photographer from the Lower East Side who knows Mr. Beal, said that being in possession of money that smelled like marijuana would not necessarily be an indication of guilt for somebody involved in Mr. Beal’s sort of advocacy work.

“He raises money from all over the world,” Mr. Penley said of Mr. Beal. “And a lot of it comes from potheads.”