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Laguna Beach rallies against Drug War

By Rachel Morton, November Coalition activist

On October 16, 2004 I took our issues and supporters to the streets of Laguna Beach (CA). I gave two cable TV interviews and a local newspaper interview because of the prisoners' stories that were displayed, and I spoke particularly about Rudy Howell's case to demonstrate the corruption, lunacy and brutality of sentencing laws and policies. It felt good to have Rudy's poster right there to show a real person with his mother, emphasizing his humanity despite the injustice of the drug laws

I handed out a one-page flyer listing drug war facts and November Coalition's website. LOTS of people showed up for the protest and vigil.

Orange County (CA) NORML had contacted a band named 'Marijuana,' and apparently they ran an ad in a local newspaper or magazine "promising free herb" at the protest. So in addition to the 50 - 60 people who showed up, there were 5 police cars with 10 officers attending and surrounding us for the first hour. A police helicopter flew overhead, hoping, I suppose, to spot the elusive, promised pot, which came to naught.

We had lots of signs, handouts, and a drum circle with great passion and enthusiasm. At least a thousand people walked by during the 3 hours of the protest, and many stopped to talk to the medical marijuana advocates, while others spoke with me about the drug war's catastrophic outcomes to people and the environment. We stood near a major street, Pacific Coast Highway, and cars drove by with passengers waving and cheering because we were there.

Finally, it was GREAT to have Judge James Gray at the protest; he openly opposes the Drug War, has written about it, and competed vigorously for a US Senate seat against incumbent Barbara Boxer. Thanks to all attendees for making this public event into a strong show of diverse support for ending failed US national drug policy.

For more on Rachel's activism, Click Here.

More than a Blue Moon to me

By Rachel Morton

The Homeland Security officer at the airport took my bag and after performing one chemical test asked, "Have you been handling ammunition?" What a curious question, I thought, after such an interesting weekend in northeastern Washington State.

I was on my way home from visiting the new headquarters for November Coalition in Colville, Washington after participating in a workshop there on the weekend of the 'blue moon,' July 30-31, the second full moon in the month.

Perhaps my semi-comatose demeanor from lack of sleep aroused suspicion. I hadn't slept that night because I had to leave Colville at 3 a.m. to catch an early flight from Spokane to my home in California.

More sinister thoughts popped up. Could the Homeland officers have known that I had been with people from around the U.S. who actively oppose the murderous War on Drugs? Did the officers see me as 'one of those people' who would open up the prison doors, let the people come inside, and demand an effective sentencing and early-release system for those nonviolent individuals - drug law violators mainly - who are ordered into prison?

Speaking of ammunition, what better ammo do we have than organizing, planning and implementing public actions for the majority of us who oppose injustice? I was about to say, "We are the ammunition to fight the never-satisfied boosters of our sprawling prison-industrial system!" But I didn't.
"No, I have not been handling ammunition," I answered quietly to the Homeland officer who had taken my ID and airline ticket for entry into their 'explosives log.'

The officer then explained that my bag had tested positive for TNT.

"Do you use hand lotion," I was then asked. Of course, and how was I to know that hand lotions often contain chemicals that when tested are the same as those found in TNT? I got home okay, with lots of new thought.
Mostly, what I do know is that truth is still the baddest weapon. We have the Blakely decision, an explosion in the judiciary. We are aiming at earned, early release for our loved ones behind bars. That July weekend was more than a Blue Moon to me - it taught me to shop carefully for hand lotion.

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