El Paso, TX

Howdy, out there, folks from Regional Leader Deitra Lied. Here's a few notes from the Border.

Long before the holidays we had an election in this country, remember? Cantina La Tuya, at 1731 Lee Trevino Street in El Paso was the sight of a Third Party Party on Saturday, Nov 4th. Several local musicians and favorite groups donated their time and talents to help raise awareness for the public and money for the local chapter of the November Coalition. About 250 people showed up to revel in anticipation of the vote. Tables were set up for the Green Party, the Libertarian Party and Jubilee Justice Petitions with information about the November Coalition. Thanks a million, Rich, Melani, and everyone else who helped out!

The unveiling of the T-shirts spread enthusiasm and helped raise much needed funds. A private collection of American flags were the theme of this patriotic evening with flags on stage, draped from the ceiling, used as tablecloths, with some placed in frames of honor. One such flag dated back to when there were only 38 stars!

The movie TRAFFIC has opened the hearts and minds of many to the possibilities of change. Much of the filming was actually done in the Las Cruces/El Paso/Juarez region, but the story has been going on for some time. From the first weekend the movie showed at local theaters, I took advantage of people's new awareness by giving them Razor Wires or brochures as they left the theater. Most people seem to be grateful it's finally out in the open; and are eager to find out more about what is really happening.

Last year the November Coalition held vigils all across the country in observance of the passage of the benchmark number two million Americans in our prisons. This year, I held a Valentines Day Vigil in observance of this sad reality. My Valentine is part of the prison system in our country. The numbers continue to grow on a daily basis. The El Paso winds howled across the First Amendment Space at the Chamizal National Theater. The turnout was low due to the uncooperative weather, but a local reporter from the newspaper showed up to hear and print our story!

Between 4:00 & 5:00 a.m. almost every Sunday, cars begin to line up on a country road. I've counted over 30 cars going up the hill at 7:30 when parking on the FCI grounds is allowed. We get in line again to wait for the forms we need to fill out to be processed inside. After we get our forms, we retire to our cars to fill them out and wait for the final call to begin processing. Sometime between 8:00 & 8:30 the guards begin to let us in, one family at a time. Sign in, go through the metal detector, get stamped, & then we wait again. This 3-5 hour wait outside gives families lots of time to nap, read, put on make up, get the kids ready, or get acquainted. I use part of the time to hand out Razor Wires, and other pertinent information. I am continually inspired by the love and devotion of the women and men I meet while waiting for my visit. Perseverance, diligence & faith I see in abundance. We need more courage!

The back of my vehicle always has a box of reading material; Razor Wires, copies of Shattered Lives, information from DPFT & NORML, and an assortment of books. I've added the t-shirts to the assortment, and my posters and banners are always ready to hang. I'm a walking vigil, ready to happen whenever & wherever people are ready to listen. This spring will see an increase in the number of scheduled vigils and locations. Students at UTEP are considering initiating a chapter of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. Together we can make a difference.

For those in the El Paso area, call me for more information at 915-546-8400.

Houston vigilers busy

By G. Alan Robison Executive Director Drug Policy Forum of Texas Houston, Texas

Have been so busy I almost forgot to report on our last vigil. There were five of us this time (me, Susan, Tami, Laqueta, and new recruit Dean Becker). It was pleasant weather, and we managed to give away a terrific amount of literature. We offered four items to passersby: extra copies of the July-Aug issue of the Razor Wire, a flyer that Carl made of his 15 Questions the Drug Warriors Avoid, that 4-page summary of the Effective National Drug Control Strategy, and some new flyers Dean had made for the big event he's organizing for May 5. Check out Dean's website at for more info on what he's trying to do for us.

Dean is thinking in terms of 100,000 people showing up for this event. The 'realist' in me repeatedly tries to get him to think along more 'practical' lines. Yet, with as much energy as he displays, I wouldn't want to bet against him. If we can ever get him and Hobart together, there's going to be 'hell to pay' in Houston.

I guess it would be more appropriate for me to make these reports on the Houston page of our website, and that's what I'll plan to do in the future. If readers are interested in attending our vigils, they're held from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. in front of the courthouse on the last Monday of each month. We'd especially appreciate your help during the peak hour between 4:30 and 5:30 because there are so many people coming out of the building then. There are usually just a few of us so that we only 'catch' a tiny fraction of people going by. We could be a lot more efficient if we had more people to help us. Bring a sign if you'd rather do that. We also always have lots of pictures of drug war POW's for those of you who'd like to follow the original concept.

Anyhow, I hope you'll get in the habit of checking our website at for future information about coming events.

Richmond Vigil on a move

We met on Saturday to hold our "Stop The Drug War" vigil in front of the city jail in Richmond, Virginia. There were twelve of us, counting one new vigil warrior. The weather was great, and we were able to burn our candles. Lennice of "Virginias Against Drug Violence" brought a large candle that she found in the garbage. She said, "We will not let this candle burn all the way down before this drug war ends", and so she will be bringing it to the monthly Vigil.

Into the garbage is where this war needs to go. Jason from the "Richmond anti-Globalization network" was there, one of the four soldiers who was at the cold and rainy vigil in November. Divine of the U. N. I. A. - A. C. L. handed out the Razor Wire newspaper and other information to the visitors of the prisoners. The hour was very uplifting, the spirit of justice with us as we gathered to do the work of the Most High. I could feel the spirit with us as Martin passed us one of his torches.

We will continue to hold the vigils until the war ends, and there is peace. Thanks to all who were there, and may the Creator continue to bless each of you and yours. In loving service for the people,

Kwame D. Binta, Vigil coordinator

Richmond vigil leader jailed

The founder of our vigil, Kwame Binta, has been carted off to prison on inflated Exile charges and we were not sure what would happen as we headed out to vigil.

My family of three arrived in front of the Richmond Jail promptly at 6 P.M.

Soon Roy Scherer joined us. Then a nice group of people from the anti globalization network arrived. A few individuals who variously described themselves as Libertarians and not libertarians then joined us. Some of them were students at Virginia Commonwealth University.

It turned out to be a very mixed and interesting group. We noticed an increased positive reaction from passing traffic. Several young women, at the jail for a visit, signed up on our list, and we invited them to join the vigil next month. Five new people signed our sheet for more information. We were photographed by the Independent News Media for their website. As a group, we decided to seek more publicity for the March Vigil by doing a press release and contacting local mainstream news agencies.

We are all concerned about our incarcerated brother, Kwame Binta, but his creation, the Richmond Vigil, lives on! For peace.

Lennice Werth, Virginians Against Drug Violence (804)645-7838

Vigil in Olympia

NORML of South Puget Sound and The November Coalition held its latest drug war vigil in lovely downtown Olympia on Sunday, February 18th from 1 PM until 4 PM. It was held at Sylvester Park (Capitol Way and Legion), four blocks from the current Capitol Building. Sylvester Park sits in the shadow of the old capitol and is easy to see from two busy streets.

Recent evidence suggests a subtle change in drug war politics. DARE promoters have recently admitted their efforts are a failure, and more and more politicos are coming out of the closet to support talks on medical marijuana, asset forfeiture, mandatory minimums and harm reduction. NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO SIT ON OUR COMPLACENT COLLECTIVE BUTTS! We need to be more and more in the public eye to put this issue on the front burner in the political kitchen.

Please show your support by showing up at the vigils. We need you, and we think you need us too. Thank you all,
Kevin Black Vigil Coordinater with The Hemp Coalition/WA NORML; NORML of South Puget Sound; The November Coalition and Security Coordinater, Seattle Hempfest

Las Vegas vigils in rain

Nora and all, I just wanted to let you know I held my vigil last week on February 15th. It was just me and two other people standing in the rain, but we did pass out a lot of literature. Interestingly, I was repeatedly asked if we were with the movie Traffic. Go figure. It went well. I still have some literature left that will soon be gone. I am very excited about the new 'sardine campaign'. I love the energy of the group.

Debbie Dedmon, TNC vigil leader in Las Vegas