Youthful leaders arise!

By Nora Callahan with Heath Wintz of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

 Students for a Sensible Drug Policy held an HEA rally last April. They blockaded the entrance to the financial aid building on the Ohio State University campus. Right: Heath Wintz publically debating a former instructor on whether the drug war can be won (October 1999)


We have had occasion to interact both face to face when we travel and within our broad network of activists via the Internet. I would like to share some informal email with our readers, especially those imprisoned and others who do not have email access. The following excerpts are from a few of Heath Wintz's emails to me, illustrating how we network and get to know one another.

"I wanted to thank you for the prisoner outfits. I already have numerous volunteers who want to wear them for our street theater on June 3rd.

"I also wanted to ask you about the possibility of holding a candlelight vigil after the sun goes down. I think that having an audience of 7-800 festival-goers lighting up candles in a moment of silence would be a great photo-op for the papers and would serve to raise awareness of the reality of the number of drug prisoners the U.S. is housing.

"I am planning an asset forfeiture funhouse in which people can take a swing at a door like a real DEA agent, raid their home, send a MMJ patient to jail, seize their home, send their spouse to jail on conspiracy charges, seize their car, and then send their children to foster homes as they empty their bank accounts.

"At the end of this course, there will be an exhibit (hopefully provided by TNC) which has pictures and bios on many of the prisoners featured within Shattered Lives, which personally opened my eyes. They will get to associate faces and names with the growing number of drug prisoners in the US.

"We will be having many bands playing throughout the day, from noon till midnight. After the sun goes down, and before the last band, I wanted to be able to pass out candles to our festival goers, and light them during a moment of silence for all those imprisoned by our unjust laws, and for their families on the outside who need them.

In my mind, I'm picturing a sea of 700 festival attendees, candles lit, inside cups (to keep wind out) with heads bowed, in complete silence. This will surely generate press coverage if nothing else that day manages to do it. I don't think press coverage will be a problem, but it's a nice little crescendo for our event if you can picture it in your mind."

I could picture this in my mind, and I liked the picture. I wrote him back asking a little more about him and for some photos to share with you all.

"Who am I? Sounds like something Anthony Michael Hall would spend a saturday school pondering (joke - Breakfast club reference).

"I am Heath. 22 - Environmental Engineering student, engineering intern, webmaster, national honor society blah blah blah. Really just can't stand the hypocrisy in drug policy and non-violent incarceration growth. Sickens me to know that people are spending part of their lives in a cell for doing things that affected no one but themselves.

"Really though, it's my first and last year organizing the Hempfest on the OSU campus. I took a smaller role last year, but after a SSDP conference in DC, I decided to really piss off the authorities and show the public the untold side of the war on drugs. If I can grab their attention with humor, then I'm going to . . .
"Checking on the candles this weekend, going to see if Sam's Club has them in bulk. I'll keep you updated as to my quotes and cost estimates. For tomorrow though, I'm building the DEA door contest with some friends."

It's nice to meet these young people who have taken on he task of picking up the torch . . . now you can meet him, too.