Pacific Northwest activists meet in Portland and Seattle

By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor, the Razor Wire

On April 8th the November Coalition took part in a strategy conference in Portland, Oregon entitled 'Grassroots Action for Criminal Justice Reform'. Nora Callahan and Chuck Armsbury met with 60 activists from 7 Western states for an all-day session of sharing information and developing plans. From supporters of Mumia Abu-Jamal to Citizens Against Measure 11, we were already a savvy, committed group with much collective experience to disclose, discover and evaluate.

This conference was organized and facilitated by Brigette Sarabi of Portland (and her helpers, thank you) and was a true workshop. We worked. Our main achievement at day's end was an agreement to create a larger coalition of activists in the Northwest committed to criminal justice education, action and reform.

A list of email subscribers has been developed for Internet communicators, and this means that the November Coalition now has a voice in new circles of people not necessarily familiar with drug war injustices. A conference participant, Cathi Lawler, has an article on page three in this issue of The Razor Wire about her effective efforts to mobilize Oregon voters against the repressive Measure 11.

On the following Friday in Seattle, Nora and Chuck participated in a 'teach-in'at the University of Washington on matters of mobilization for global justice. Nora presented information on globalization of the drug war, and Chuck discussed the growing power of the prison-industrial -complex.

It was very gratifying to meet so many young people in both cities who are eagerly becoming effective grassroots'activists. We must have been the oldest couple attending Friday night's talk by Elaine Brown, former chairperson of the Black Panther Party. Brown spoke eloquently and with great passion about her current organizing efforts with poor, white Appalachian women and black families in Georgia fighting to repeal 'two strikes' legislation.

The Sixties met the New Millenium and found many of us still struggling for power to the people- the same power which can end the savage drug war!