Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Orleans Activists Plan Secondline to Commemorate 40th Anniversary of Brutal "War on Drugs”

From our friends at Women With A Vision and Drug Policy Alliance:
A Secondline parade this Friday in New Orleans will epitomize the funeral for Nixon’s War on Drugs and provide a launching point for future community action and dialogue concerning this issue.

June 17 will mark forty years since President Nixon, citing drug abuse as “public enemy No. 1,” officially declared a "war on drugs." A trillion dollars and millions of ruined lives later, the war on drugs has inflicted brutal harm in communities across the US.

Drug policy reform advocates all across the country will mark this auspicious date with a day of action to raise awareness about the failure of drug prohibition and call for an exit strategy to the failed war on drugs.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary, drug policy reform organizations will hold a national day of action. Events will be held in 15 states, and in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans. The day of action will be highlighted with a large-scale event with elected officials in Washington, DC.

“The past 40 years of the war on drugs have had a profound effect on families in African American communities nationwide, significantly affecting Louisiana as we have the highest incarceration rate in the country. Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging than the drug itself. We need policies that move away from the current criminal justice system by attending to drug overdose and addiction, through harm reduction and health promotion," said Women With A Vision director Deon Haywood.

The New Orleans secondline, with the theme “No More War on Drugs," will begin this Friday, June 17, at 3pm at the Three-Star Barber Shop at the intersection of Felicity and Clara. The parade will end at Harmony Oaks Community Center where a “War on Drugs” forum will take place.

“Some anniversaries provide an occasion for celebration, others a time for reflection, still others a time for action, said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Forty years after President Nixon declared his war on drugs, we're seizing upon this anniversary to prompt both reflection and action. And we're asking everyone who harbors reservations about the war on drugs to join us in this enterprise."

Other Day of Action events around the US include:

• Chicago – Hundreds of Chicagoans will gather at the State of Illinois James R Thompson Center to rally against drug policies that have led to injustices such as extreme racial disparity in Illinois’s prisons and jails

• Los Angeles – Grass root organizations and students, including Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Pico Youth and Family Center, Mother United to End the War on Drugs, All of Us or None, Homies Unidos and other criminal justice organizations, will stage a Day of Action to call for Community Solutions to end the 40 year war on drugs and mass incarceration. Also, the William C. Velasquez Institute will host a forum in Los Angeles with top Latino leaders to discuss the impact of the drug war on Latino communities.

• New York - Advocates, community leaders and elected officials will attend a forum and silent vigil at the Harlem State Office Building to highlight the impacts of the drug war on NY communities. The event will be organized by Women on the Rise Telling HerStory (WORTH)

• Washington, DC- Law enforcement officials, leaders from the African American Community and religious leaders will hold a forum at the National Press Club to denounce current drug war policies. Leaders will call for a new direction and open conversation on the issue of drug prohibition.

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