VIGILS, VIGILS, VIGILS!
Kwame Binta remains vigilant in prison
I want to thank Nora, her brother Gary and other prisoners
for the idea and effort four years ago to form the November Coalition,
and I thank all the current members and supporters because you
all gave me and continue to give me strength to continue on my
spiritual journey. Today I am a P.O.W. locked behind the razor
wire here at the Petersburg Federal Correctional Institution.
Thanks to the November Coalition I have the sense to know I am
not a criminal, and that at least 80% of the P.O.W.'s here are
not either. We know there are thousands out there, and growing,
who know that we are not criminals either and are righteously
working to bring freedom and justice to all of us here locked
away from our family and friends.
I hear the Richmond Vigil is still going strong and will continue
until the war is over. While I am here, I will continue to teach
and get people involved in the great movement. I am working in
the safety and sanitation department for .12¢ per hour.
It's so crowded in here that I am housed in the basement of an
old dusty building with about 60 other POW's, and half of us
have colds or flu.
Also, there is not enough work for us state slaves to do, and
so most of the time we sit or lay around, trying not to get caught
sleeping. If our keepers catch any of us sleeping, they will
write us up and place it in our file to be held against us later.
There also is a cable, a forklift and a print factory here and
where state slaves work for maximum pay of $1.15 per hour.
This paper on which I write was printed at the print shop. Unicor
is the Government Company that hires the slave labor here in
Petersburg. Please send me a few copies of the Razor Wire old
and new so that I may share them with others
In loving service for the people,
First Vancouver vigil
We held the first ever vigil to my knowledge in Vancouver,
Washington. There was a slight feeling of anxiety starting, as
we'd been led to believe that the city might not take too kindly
to us; it sure is nice to be pleasantly wrong.
We set up on the lawn next to the front entrance to the Clark
County Courthouse. A table was set up with Razor Wires, tabloids,
voter registration forms, and lots of pamphlets and handouts.
We spread out on the lawn over a dozen prisoner-laminates, framing
our November Coalition banner.
A wide variety of people stopped to talk and take literature.
As we've found in the past, most folks had no idea of the true
price that the drug war is exacting; disbelief and horror were
common reactions as people studied the laminates or thumbed through
a copy of Shattered Lives that we had with us.
The Vancouver vigil is going to be a regular one. The activists
who participated today plan to start holding a monthly vigil
on the second Monday every month. On a personal note, thanks
to all the great people in Vancouver who worked their rear ends
off to make this happen and who will ensure that it will CONTINUE
Kevin Black, Vigil Coordinator, The Hemp Coalition/WA NORML;
NORML of South Puget Sound; The November Coalition
Vigiling in series from Vancouver to Seattle
We held a series of three vigils in Washington State on April
16th, the Monday after Easter Sunday, starting at 11:00 a.m.
in Vancouver (WA) and ending at 5:00 p.m. in Seattle, with our
Capitol City of Olympia sandwiched in the middle. Lee, Angie,
Jason and Cloi - personal thanks from me.
I'm here to report on the Seattle Vigil. We started at 3:00 p.m.,
as the Olympia Vigil was ending. We set up two folding tables
and loaded them up with literature - November Coalition pamphlets,
NORML pamphlets, copies of Shattered Lives and lots of other
stuff. The centerpiece was a healthy white lily to symbolize
the day. The coolest new piece we had for display was a recent
letter from Melinda George in which she announced her impending
Laminates were spread across the lawn, as were the letters spelling
out "NO MORE DRUG WAR!" This was in view of the monorail
that passed overhead every 8 minutes with a load of tourists.
Our backdrop was the Space Needle to the left and the Experience
Music Project (EMP) on the right. While the walk-by traffic wasn't
as heavy as we anticipated, the streets were very busy and nearly
everyone looked. Because we set up next to a traffic light, lots
of people had the opportunity to read as they were stopped. We
received quite a few honks and thumbs up.
I'm hoping that as the weather warms, more folks show up. We
had a good turnout today, but I won't be happy until we receive
complaints because there are so many of us!
Kevin Black, Vigil Coordinator
An Olympian vigil
What a beautiful day in Olympia (WA)! We didn't have a big
turnout, but those folks who stopped by made it a wonderful time.
The weather held out very nicely for us.
Thank you to Dave, Bob, Meril and everyone else for coming out.
We also had three people register to vote today, which is always
encouraging. I hope that Jason down in Vancouver and Kevin up
in Seattle had a successful turnout as well. We will keep you
updated with our future events and vigils. Peace!
NORML of South Puget Sound
Pike Place Market vigil no joke
You've gotta be lying...there's no way someone could get life
for pot!" This was one of the common responses received
on March 26th when we held vigil at the Pike Place Market in
We'd never held a vigil at this location, and so there was apprehension
beforehand; out in public you never know what reaction you'll
get. Judging alone by the pages and pages of signatures we received
on our 'Free Todd McCormick' petition, we picked a great location.
We were a small group, but as the saying goes, 'quality not quantity.'
I can't recall how many times I heard a thank you for just being
there, but it was quite a few. Frequently, we'd talk to one person
and a crowd would gather to hear what we were saying. The crowd
would then hang around so that everyone could sign the petition.
I actually wished that I'd brought more clipboards along. Luckily,
people were anxious to sign and waited patiently until they were
able to. One of the businesses at the entrance to the Market
sent an employee out with a message for us; if we received any
problems from either the police or security, we were more than
welcome to move in front of their store. Here's a BIG THANK YOU
to Left-Bank Books for this offer. Luckily, we didn't have to
worry about this.
Both the Seattle Police and Pike Place Market security checked
us out and let us be. Zero problems. The vigil actually went
past the 5 p.m. ending time, and no one minded. At that point,
we were so busy talking to people that time really wasn't a factor,
so lost in the moment were we.
All in all, this was a successful vigil. We ran out of literature,
talked to lots of people, and had some faith restored in general
humanity. We also found an incredible location for future vigils.
Our next vigils in Seattle will be the Seattle Center on Easter
and the King County Correctional Center on Mothers Day. Hopefully
these go half as well as this one; then they too can go into
the success column.
Kevin Black, Regional - Vigil Coordinator, Seattle/ Puget
Worked movie crowd at TRAFFIC
I went to see the movie TRAFFIC. It certainly added
to the impact of the movie when people had the opportunity to
read the message I prepared of "Opening the Can". I
personally passed out an informative brief packet.
There's "something fishy about the war on drugs", from
the front page "Open the Can Campaign" of Mar/Apr Razor
Lee Taylor, Regional Leader-SE FLA