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,

Kwame Binta

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 happening.

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 parole.

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!

Angie Newbury,
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 downtown Seattle.

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 Sound

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 Wire.
Lee Taylor, Regional Leader-SE FLA