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Local Scenes

November Coalition's Local Activities to End Drug War Injustice

Drug War Propaganda Project

My School Project

Colville, WA High School student Jonah Ohm Campbell chose Drug War Propaganda as the subject of his senior sociology film project. Jonah was mentored in his efforts by November Coalition director Nora Callahan, and received an 'A' for his work.

You can download Jonah's project in the following formats:
(Right-click and choosee "Save As" to download to your computer)

Windows Media Player

 Quicktime Movie

Flash Video

New Haven Denounces Drug War Injustice

May 2, 2009, New Haven, CT

Story by Barbara Fair -- Photos by Melinda Tuhus

The day was dreary in New Haven (CT), but it didn't discourage drug war reformers traveling from as far away as Indiana who gathered to educate a diverse audience about the injustices of the drug war. The drug policy conference was held inside Yale University's Dwight Hall Chapel on Saturday, May 2, 2009.

Ira Glasser, former National ACLU Director and now board president of Drug Policy Alliance, headed the lists of panelists/speakers. His speech portrayed the drug war as a revival of the Jim Crow Laws that prevailed in the South from the 1890s into 1950s, a set of laws that paved the way to renewed legal subjugation of African Americans in America. He went on to explain how Jim Crow repression succeeded slavery and how the drug war succeeded Jim Crow, both of which successfully removed African Americans from society.

He was followed by a panel of speakers that first included internationally respected drug policy activist, Cliff Thornton, executive director of Efficacy and two LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) spokesmen, Richard VanWickler, Superintendant of Corrections in New Hampshire and Joseph Brooks, retired police captain from Manchester, CT. Speaking next were Lorenzo Jones, executive director of A Better Way Foundation, and Connecticut State Senator Martin Looney, who introduced a bill to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in the state legislature this session.

Kemba Smith, a former prisoner of the drug war, traveled from Indianapolis to share her story of being sentenced to 24 years as a first time drug law violator, even though prosecutors admitted that she never used, held or sold drugs. She was charged for crimes her former boyfriend committed. Her sentence was commuted in 2000 by President Bill Clinton after serving nearly seven years in prison. Since release she has traveled the country telling her story, attended law school, and plans to marry soon. Her speech was followed by words from a group of local activists including criminal defense attorneys Michael Jefferson and Norm Pattis, Youth mentors' Officer Shafiq Abdussabar and Shelton Tucker, and a Youth Rights Media alumnus, Matt Mitchell.

Drug Policy Conference, Yale University's Dwight Hall Chapel, Saturday, May 2, 2009

It was a gathering of some of the most committed leaders in the movement to end the US War on Drugs which began four decades ago under Richard Nixon's administration and accelerated rapidly in the 1980s under Ronald Reagan's reign. In early 1970s there were 1.4 million people addicted to drugs. In 2009, forty years later, there are 1.4 million people addicted to drugs; prohibited drugs are cheaper, more accessible and purer than 40 years ago, motivating activists to challenge all validity of the war on drugs. Reliable research now reports that 1.5 million Americans are arrested every year for drug law offenses, and 75% of those arrests are for simple possession of marijuana. The war on drugs is the main feeder to an exploding prison system that has become one of the fastest growing industries in this country. America incarcerates more of its citizens than anywhere else in the world. No proportion of the US prison population has grown faster than African Americans. The greatest racial disparity is seen nationally among men ages 25-29 where Whites are incarcerated at the rate of 1,685 per 100,000, Latinos at 3,192 per 100,000 and African Americans an astounding 11,695 per 100,000. Today, there are 7 million Americans incarcerated, on parole or probation.

To cap the afternoon, a film -- American Drug War: The Last White Hope -- was shown, captivating the audience with revelations of US involvement in supplying cocaine to the streets of urban America where eventually the crack epidemic took hold and devastated the lives of millions of Americans. The film depicted congressional hearings held in Washington DC in which former CIA and DEA agents and former presidents were questioned about their involvement in supplying the neighborhoods of Los Angeles with cocaine and then arresting the people who sold and used it.

The drug policy conference was hosted by People Against Injustice, a New Haven based grassroots organization seeking criminal justice and prison reform. Sponsors were Yale SLAM, Yale Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and November Coalition.

(Editor's Note: Barbara Fair, director of People Against Injustice, steadfast criminal justice reform activist and longtime November volunteer, lost her mother in late July 2009. The November Coalition extends our heartfelt sympathies to Barbara and her family.)

Locals Rally to Support Sen. Webb's Reform Efforts

Citizens in Action

At our spring benefit on May 16, November Coalition members from Washington State filled out and sent postcards to Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) asking her to support Sen. Webb's reform bill. Patty Murray (D-WA), our other US Senator, has already cosponsored the bill.

Coalition members Mike and SheGlidesBy sign postcards to Sen. Cantwell at May event.

Several batches of these signed postcards, along with accompanying pictures,
have been mailed to Sen. Cantwell's WA State office.

What is the War on Drugs Costing Us?

September 11, 2009, St. Petersburg, FL

Nora Callahan of November Coalition, speaking at War on Drugs forum co-hosted by November Coalition, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and the Florida ACLU.

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