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No justice, no peace, no drug war police

There is no justice in the war on drugs," chanted protesters in a Connecticut courtroom one day last June. People Against Injustice, Critical Resistance, Yale SLAM, along with other community groups staged a protest inside and outside the New Haven Courthouse during a hearing for one of PAI's members, Shelton Tucker in June of 2004.

Like many Black and Latino youth arrested, in this case for possession of marijuana, Tucker insisted he was falsely accused - no drugs were found on him - and refused to plead guilty. And like most defendants in drug war cases, the judge threatened Tucker with a maximum sentence of eight years if a jury found him guilty. After several frustrating hearings, and with little hope for a fair trial, Tucker did what most accused do in these blackmail-type cases - pled guilty.

Protesters joined Shelton as he stood before the judge and - after Shelton was given a suspended sentence and probation - rose up in the courtroom with black gags over their mouths. Shelton's mother, and a PAI member, displayed and carried the November Coalition's banner "There is no justice in the war on drugs" as the support group left the courthouse.

Outside the courthouse, the group spoke about the injustices that occur there on a daily basis, as spectators looked on. Cars honked their horns in support of the lively group, as they vowed to continue fighting for criminal justice and prison reform.

People Against Injustice activists Barbara Fair and Sally Joughin, along with other members and other community groups, organized and staged a Journey for Justice in New Haven in March 26, 2004. The Journey depicted the trail of injustices that occur every day in the city.

About 50 people gathered outside the New Haven Police Department on a hot, humid day holding signs with messages speaking of the 30-year-old, failed drug war in this country. The police station was the first of three stops.

Second was the County Courthouse, and then on to the Jail where thousands are being held in crowded conditions due to excessive bail. Most of these detainees are in jail due to drug charges. In Connecticut over 65% of the nearly 20,000 prisoners have been convicted of nonviolent crimes.

The Journey march included members of PAI and other grassroots' organizations whose common mission is criminal justice and prison reform. A major concern of everyone is drug policy and enforcement reform. Others on this special Journey included family members of the confined, Yale University students, members of the International Socialist Organization, and other individual community activists.

Speeches were given at each site. Cars honked horns loudly in support of the marchers. Afterwards, everyone gathered at a local community center where youth came together in dialogue about their experiences with police harassment, illegal searches, racial profiling and police misconduct within their community.

Behind such honest sharing to end the day, Journeyers went home aroused with the power of people united in righteous cause.

Thanks to Barbara Fair for this report and photos.

For more on Barbara Fair's activism, Click Here

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