VIGILS, VIGILS, VIGILS
El Paso, TX
Howdy, out there, folks
from Regional Leader Deitra Lied. Here's a few notes from the
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
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
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 www.cultural-baggage.com 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'
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 www.dpft.org 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
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 www.getnorml.org
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