We've good news! The Drug Policy Foundation awarded us two grants. One is for the Radio-CD project that you can read about on page 15, and second is our outreach to newly indicted drug defendants and their loved-ones. We want to identify, early on, our prospective constituency so that despair and sorrow does not result in abandonment of the drug war prisoner. We will be providing educational materials that will explain why our current drug policy has failed and encourage loved ones and prisoners to join the voices for reform.
Remember to send us the names and addresses of any attorneys that you know who specialize in defending drug defendants. We want to introduce ourselves and ask them to carry a brochure in their office. Responses to the brochure will enable us to send an informational packet. Why should the loved ones of prisoners flounder around in grief? We need to get them active and believe that this will happen when they realize that the drug laws are more culprit than those they love.
If you are a drug war prisoner and are just adding your family to our mailing list, please identify who the people are. Next to the name write: mother, sister, brother or friend etc. please.
More regional leaders have come forward and plans are underway to spearhead many of the projects that we discussed our first year of formation. Our thanks extends to DPF and many others who have providing funding for us in recent months. Jeri Hinman will be on staff as project coordinator and to assist me in the office day to day. We'll introduce her properly next issue.
As you have read our various United Nations reports, you can see that the drug policy reform movement and many individuals came together to oppose the agenda of the UN Special Assembly on Narcotic Drugs. Our collective effort did not go unnoticed.
I would like to share a few portions of a speech I gave in Colville, Washington on June 6th. My thanks to Adam Smith, of DRCNet, I snitched some of his words from recent posts and added them to portions of one speech. What aren't Adam's words are phrases and thoughts written by prisoners of the drug war.
"We are gathered here today to show the United Nations and our own community that there is resistance to the current status quo of the drug war. Our country and the world must adopt a more reasoned approach"not simply more of the same.
In the U.S., one in twenty Americans are now felons, largely because of this nation's drug war stance, one in four African-American males have felony records and mass incarceration costs the United States $100 million dollars per day. The war has cost hundreds of billions of dollars and the cost in lives is no longer measurable.
It is fact that the United States is in a virtual epidemic of imprisonment as a result of misguided drug policy. It is inconceivable that the United Nations would wish upon the world at large the levels of incarceration that the U.S. is currently, mindlessly pursuing.
The U.N. prohibitionist approach is to broaden its scope, and this means more power and more resources handed to the repression authorities. But the United States is the only country in the world that can technologically and financially sustain mass imprisonment.
Poorer nations, unable to warehouse large segments of their population, as this country has done with efficiency, will find an 11¢ bullet more fiscally motivating than an eleven year prison term.
The American militarization of the drug war, with lethal hardware exported to foreign countries, finds more utility in the eradication of dissident groups than the eradication of certain crops. This is a proven theme, from Mexico to Peru.
The American-style drug war cannot be allowed to rage on a global scale. Plain and simple - it cannot!
A commercial will air on national television around the world in an attempt to rally public support for a global drug war. An elderly cleaning lady enters the huge empty UN auditorium in New York with her polishing cart, to get the venue spic-and-span for the important upcoming meeting. A voice in the background explains: here, in this room, on the 8, 9 and 10 of June world leaders will join forces to confront the drug problem.' As the lady dusts off a globe, in the swaying movement, a roaring helicopter appears spraying herbicides, followed by a fast sequence of other images like burning drug crops, heavily armed soldiers and a farmer processing coffee. The voice ends with the slogan: "A drug free world " We can do it!"
Let's talk about the herbicide portrayed in the commercial.
It is so strong that just a few granules sprinkled over a pesky tuft of grass on a driveway in San Francisco killed an oak tree several meters away.
Dow Agro Sciences, the manufacturer of the herbicide known as Tebuthiuron, coined Spike, warns customers never to apply it near trees, water sources or any place where it can accidentally kill desirable plant life. Dow specifically says this is not the product for wide-scale eradication of illicit drug crops.
Nevertheless, U.S. authorities want to see it used in Colombia " and so does the new global drug Czar, Pino Arllachi.
Will we destroy the forests to save them?
Let's talk about the helicopters shown in this commercial.
We provide Latin America with high tech helicopters and machine guns. This is not about eradicating coca, it is about eradicating citizens of indigenous communities " the innocents; the collateral casualties of war... a war with no end in sight.
Will we destroy the village to save it?
Let's talk about the soldiers in this commercial.
They are used along our international borders, and innocents have already been slaughtered here " how many innocents will they continue to kill abroad?
The helicopters came to Stevens County long ago - how long before soldiers follow?
The United Nations will meet But here - out in the real world, where the freedom of speech and the vigorous examination of the status quo is a natural right of human beings, dissent rings out today from every corner of the globe.
From Amsterdam to Talinn, from Moscow to Colville, Washington there are demonstrations and vigils and forums and marches in protest of the atrocity that the gathering in New York is designed to further. And although our events are being attended not by heads of state but by the citizens of states, it is these gatherings which will ultimately prove to have held the greater power. Because the message we bring is that of truth, and justice, and peace.
It's time to declare peace with honor and stop the destructive policies of war."
I believe all of what I told the crowd that gathered Colville. And so does Adam, and Gary and the rest of the people whose words I took to heart and shared that day. We are gaining strength and momentum and it will not be long before there is a storm of protest. We had between 300 to 400 people turn-out in this small rural area. Many people have asked when we will gather again.
It is imperative that we reach family and friends with the facts and continue to tear down the wall of lies and rhetoric that is nothing more than propaganda. We must reach the teachers and tell them where educational tax dollars are being funneled. Students must know that this war is their Vietnam. Religious organizations need to be shown that to ignore this issue could enable a horror to be unleashed on the world at an unprecedented scale and to support a global drug war is unconscionable. Our work continues.
Thank you to the many people and organizations that are supporting our efforts. A special thank you to the prisoners at Three Rivers who donated generously last month. To the prisoners who write letters to the media, judges and politicians" your work has made a difference, too. Discussion in mainstream America is picking up steam, it is not the time to sit back and watch it unfold"it is time for each of us to work harder than we ever had before. Copy articles and send them on to your newspaper editors, friends and family. Send letters to Congress and your local community leaders. If now is not the time that push came to shove, then it will never come. Last month we shared Adam Smith's exhortation that "our time was upon us". It certainly is.
We apologize for not being able to answer all of the mail personally, but it is read and messages and ideas are taken to heart. Please don't stop writing, and we'll keep working together to bring the prisoners of the drug war home.
Love, Nora Callahan