When I called up Vancouver city council candidate Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon last month, it was on the eve of her “arrest-a-versary.”
On a September afternoon back in 2001, police dragged her off a nude beach in Vancouver, where she regularly sold watermelon and pot cookies. “You never forget your first,” she told VICE.
Looking back, 16 years and three acquittals later, Watermelon sees that arrest in her early 20s as a defining moment of her life—one that somewhat paradoxically led her to run for office. “Three hundred people stood up to protest my arrest,” she recalls of the Wreck Beach showdown. “The community stood up and said you got the wrong girl, she’s one of us. There’s literally photos of people shaking fists and children crying.”
Dunsdon says the run-in helped her “grow up real fast,” and solidified her tendency to stand up for herself in the face of power. She says it’s something she picked up as a self-described military brat, and perfected as her own legal representation decades later. “My father reeked of authority so hard, so