09/26/10 - Alice Huffman

Alice Huffman, Pres Calif NAACP re bigotry of the drug war + Tony Newman of Drug Policy Alliance re tsunami of drug war info

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Guest: 
Alice Huffman
Organization: 
NAACP
Download: Audio icon COL_092610.mp3
Share

Comments

Transcript

Century of Lies / September 26, 2010

The failure of Drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.

----------------------------

Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. A little bit later, we’re going to hear from Tony Newman from the Drug Policy Alliance, talking about some new attitudes and ways and means of ending this drug war.

A couple of weeks back, I did an interview with Alice Huffman, who heads up the NAACP out there in California, talking about Prop 19 and its impact on the Black community.

I told you about the rousing response she had gotten during her speech. Well, thanks to the good folks at NORML, this is Alice Huffman of the NAACP talking to the NORML crowd.

Alice Huffman: (Applause) Don’t ask me how I got here. Such a distinguished panel but I never thought that I would be in a room like this. I’m the Aunt that no one can smoke pot at her house. I’m the Aunt that you can’t even smoke it in the backyard. (Laughter) Boooo.

I’m the straight-laced, no drug smoking, dealing, shooting – Aunt in public service. I am so straight-laced that you’d have to ever wonder how I got to this point and here I am with a group of pot lovers (Laughter) and I’m loving it. (Applause)

I’m loving it because I am sick of the hypocrisy. I got a couple of hundred nieces and nephews. I watched this thing for many years and I don’t need a scientist like Harry telling me what’s really going on. Although, it helps because when I got in this, I didn’t know we were going to have such a support group. I didn’t know there was going to be so much anger out there about the NAACP doing what it is supposed to do – take government on when it is discriminating. (Applause)

That preacher, that preacher calling for my resignation – I get a stack of cards, he’s going all across the country. The only thing is that he much be illiterate because every damn card said the same thing and it ain’t even in good English. (Laughter) I’m getting them with little labels and things on it asking for me to resign from the NAACP and he’s not even a member of the NAACP.

His problem is that he’s gone beyond pot. He’s a crackhead and a dealer and a phony preacher and I can’t get anybody to write it except Rolling Stone. They did an article on him. Calling for my resignation is a waste of his time. I ain’t going nowhere! (Applause) I’m staying the course.

I want you to deal for a moment with this Jim Crow, this word “Jim Crow,” because now it’s coming back in vogue. It’s been gone for a long time and now all of a sudden it’s back on the table and dialog.

Remember what Jim Crow is and was?

It WAS a government sanctioned program to make sure that a targeted group of people, who happened to be African American half the time, lived second class in everything – in school, lifestyle, no drinking at the water fountains, everything. It was a holistic life approach to second-class citizenship in America.

So, when you start throwing Jim Crow around, you better analyze how it really applies here so you can answer the question because I think I am here today to ask for all of you pleasure loving pot smoking people to also pick up this campaign we’re on to regulate and decriminalize it to save our young boys and girls (applause) who are losing their lives everyday because they have a joint! (Applause)

The Jim Crow part of it that really fits is that – we’ve never really gotten completely out of Jim Crow, for those of you who may think you’ve arrived. There’s always been some form of Jim Crowism for African Americans. We’ve been struggling ever since. They gave us a little bump back in the sixties and they thought after three or four hundred years of all the maladies that could be perpetuated on a people.

You could give us a little year called “the civil rights movement” for twenty or thirty years and all that should have been overcome and then all of a sudden we should be first class, evened out, regulated people able to function in society. Even thought they screwed over our education, screwed over our language, screwed over everything. They gave us ten or twenty years to get it together and we have still never, really overcome.

A few of us have, we think. But if you’re just one paycheck away in America and you happen to be a person of color, you are very, very marginal as to whether or not you have gotten out of Jim Crowism, because the fact that our public schools are still killing the brains of our young kids. It is systematic.

The local form of schools are simply euphemism for schools where Black and Brown kids are trapped with no resources to get out and they’re being miseducated. That’s Jim Crowism, that’s a lifestyle, that’s a brain damage, that’s a child gone. (Applause) So that’s there.

The fact that we still earn less money than our White counterparts in almost all jobs. That’s still kind of government sanctioned because they all look the other way. I’m making a point here. The fact that they can police my community, to protect your community, that’s what they do. You want to know how so many Black and Brown kids are being arrested? They police my community on Friday and Saturday night to keep the other communities safe. If they put the same – if you guys put the same amount of patrol cars in White America, you’d get the same number of arrests. (Applause) The same number!

Dean Becker: We are listening to Alice Huffman, President of the NAACP in California, giving a speech to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference in Portland, Oregon.

Alice Huffman: One of these days when we overcome this drug thing and put it in perspective where it belongs. Maybe my community could get some of the protection that other communities get. You can be a law abiding citizen, doing everything right, going to church, doing everything – if going to church is whatever they think it is – going to church and doing all that.

You can still get slammed up against a car, if you live in one of those zones that he calls “the pond.” The duck pond. The duck pond. There ain’t no duck ponds over where I live right now. I bet there’s a lot of ducks over there but I’m across the tracks. There ain’t no duck pond over there.

I was thinking when your board member was talking, your traveling show guy Rick Steves. When he was up talking, I was thinking, my god, oooooh, how that would go over in my community at my convention. I’m having my convention in October and he was just loving that pot stuff that he was talking about. (Laughter) He had some good data there.

You know, the problem, I’m finding in my community. We really did think the war on drugs was to protect us. We really are afraid of the gangs. We really are afraid of the bad guys and somehow we got duped into thinking that cartels and all those large drug dealers were going to be snapped up and swallowed up in this Drug War to save our communities.

We’re so fearful and now we live with the violence that comes from the illicit drugs, from if being sold underground. We live in fear in our own communities. So, it’s hard to really talk about the leisure and the pleasure of pot in my community because there’s the fear that it is the “gateway.”

They think it is the gateway to crack. They think it’s the gateway to heroin. They think it’s the gateway to methamphetamine. They haven’t really looked at what the gateway is.
It’s the gateway to the prison system. It’s not the gateway to use. If you’ve got an addictive personality — if you’ve got an addictive personality you’re going to go in your Momma’s medicine cabinet and get you some drugs (applause) and those are called “legal drugs”.

So, this campaign has really been a kind of an eye opener for me. I got into it because I was sitting somewhere and I did pay attention when there was a statement given by the Drug Policy Alliance and I go, “Oooooohh, you mean they’re arresting our kids like that? I’m a civil rights worker. Ooooh. You mean government is applying the law unequally here? Oh, you mean the reason I can’t get these kids educated in school is because they’re in prison. Oh, well maybe we ought to do something about it.” (Applause)

I had no idea that it was going to create such a momentum and movement. It has truly been startling at the number of people that I have to convince that I’m dealing on civil rights issue of it and the regulation of it.

I met a doctor yesterday on my way out of the dry cleaners. Young – he was a young doctor and we all knew each other. You know how you think that people are very progressive and so he asked me, “Are we going to have Meg Whitman or are we going to have Jerry Brown?” and I said, “Well, I’m hoping it’s going to be Jerry Brown but we’re not going to have either one of them, if we don’t pay attention to the political system and might get what you don’t want.” And I said, “I’m putting my time in right now on” – think it now. I’m thinking, I’m going to get an applause or a smile or a “Right on, sister.” You know how we do each other. (Laughter)

I said, “I’m putting my time in right now on this marijuana thing. I want to regulate it.” He looked at me and said, “That’s a tough one.” So, I started to running down my little stuff. He said, “No.” He said, “You could regulate it. Now, I would go for that but you can’t legalize it.” Well, I said, “I don’t know how we could regulate it if we don’t” – I said, “It’s just really two sides of same coin. I prefer to focus on regulating it for my people and to keep them out of prison.”

I said, “The Prop 19 is an opportunity to jump in there to get something done for society and for my people that we need to do.” He goes, “I’m not going to vote for Prop 19.” I go, “Nay! I don’t believe you!” He goes, “No.” I said, “It’s a health issue. We should make it a health issue, if somebody has an addictive personality.”

He says, “I’ll buy that.” I said, “So, well you must buy voting yes on Prop 19.” [He says],“Never. You have to regulate it, not legalize it.” So, I say, “Well, tell me how to regulate it and not legalize it.” He said, “I don’t know but to get me to vote for it, that’s what you’re going to have to do.”

We have to learn how to talk to our community. We have to learn how to get the fear out of our community. We have to learn how to have them understand that it’s like alcohol – regulated like alcohol. You police your kids and don’t have society policing your kids through prohibition. (Applause)

Because I can’t stay here with you this afternoon, I’m going to go ahead and tell you how I feel about Prop 19. I feel like it’s a great opportunity. I feel like it is – I mean, I feel liberated. I feel like the Aunt that they all love now, that they all hated before. Finally, I have gotten sense enough to understand that I need to stop believing the okey-doke.

So, I feel like Prop 19, if it were to pass, would change or would give us the momentum to really take a hold of these crazy ass drug laws we’ve got in America and try to fix the whole thing. It needs fixing.

My fear is that the money’s not flowing. Yes, the African American community based on the “dollar domino” as Harry would say and all the publicity that we’ve gotten that we’ve moved up more to support it but California’s politics are very funny. In the end, if you don’t have the money, if you’re not educating the people, if you’re not turning them out to vote the other side will get you. They will always play the “I got you” game.

For all the people that I have met since I took this position. It wasn’t just “I.” I had to get my executive board to agree with me and my state conference and now I have to work to keep them with me because the turbulence is coming in. So, I’m doing my internal thing, as well as out here.

So, the fear I have about Prop 19 is that it is so close. It is so close, but the money’s not flowing. I mean all of you, everywhere I go that’s supportive – I see all these all these wealthy people who have been supporting drug reform.

I see the Drug Policy Alliance that we’re partnering with to try and figure out how we can do a little somethin’ somethin’ because they don’t really run campaigns but we’re trying to figure out how we can do something to educate my community so we can get them out to vote. It ‘s in their interest to get out the vote. Yet, there is no money flowing into California from anyone of any significance that will give us the belief that we are going to cross the line before the other side.

Dean Becker: We are listening to Alice Huffman, President of the NAACP of California, and the speech she gave to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws conference.

Alice Huffman: The other side is sneaky. They are laying for us. I have gotten so into this campaign. I so believe in this campaign. I so believe in the reform that we need. I so believe it’s going to save my young sisters and brothers from going to prison. I so believe that we can put that money into education. We can put that money into some social structures in the community. I so believe that we have to pass Prop 19 – (Applause) – but I don’t know if everybody else is going to believes it. (Applause)

Can you imagine, the day after the election? When we wake up and we see the headline: CALIFORNIA PROHIBITION OF MARIJUANA IS DEAD. (Applause) Can you believe what will happen – (Applause) – to the rest of the world, just like all of these leaders, African American leaders and organizations that are coming out because the NAACP has given then them some cover.

I didn’t know that when I started. God just put me here to do what I am doing. Can you believe I didn’t know what was going to happen across the nation when we pass Prop 19? It will be a new day! (Applause)

Do you know how much money we could save the government? When they are no longer building these prisons for our young men and women? Oh, I know the prison industry will be very unhappy because they will no longer have their slave labor. (Applause) I forgot to take you all the way back. Oh, they’ll be happy. They’ll be unhappy.

That’s where the Jim Crowism ends – is that by the time you get them in the system, get them in the system, get them in the system and have them now felons and get them a long term. Now you got captive slave labor and that’s how the whole cycle goes. So, this is so important to us.

You might like it for pleasure but I like Prop 19 for it’s social impact. I like it for the fact that one day we will be able to take our resources and put them where they will build a positive America and not a negative America. Not an America that’s building more prisons than they are building more colleges. Not the America that’s failing kids in the third and fourth grades, getting them ready for prison but EDUCATING them in the third and forth grade. Getting them ready for a long-term productive life. That’s the America I want to live in! (Applause)

Dean Becker: Once again, that was Alice Huffman, President of the NAACP of California, speaking to the NORML conference in Portland, Oregon.

----------------------------

(Slow music)

To ignore the nightmare that surrounds you
Just to try, try to reach the American dream

----------------------------

Tony Newman : My name is Tony Newman. I am the Director of Media Relations at the Drug Policy Alliance.

Dean Becker: Tony, I’m looking at what I consider to be a virtual tsunami of information kind of sweeping the globe much of it indicating it’s time to change our Drug War policies. Your response?

Tony Newman: I have never seen anything like this. I’ve been the Media Director at the Drug Policy Alliance for ten years. It is every single day that we’re seeing huge, big stories questioning marijuana prohibition, questioning the war on drugs. It is mind blowing.

There’s two major factors why it is getting so much attention. One of course, is the tragedy and the devastation happening in Mexico right now. Everyday on the front page you read stories. There’s been twenty eight thousand drug prohibition deaths in the last couple of years since President Calderón pushed for his surge against the drug traffickers. That is obviously putting this issue on people’s minds all the time.

The second issue is Proposition 19 in California. Californians have a chance to make history when they vote on taxing and regulating cannabis in November. That issue is already being called the highest profile initiative in the whole country. Literally, thousands and thousands stories talking about that initiative, questioning prohibition and questioning marijuana prohibition. It’s led to more coverage on this issue than I have ever seen.

Dean Becker: Now, lets first speak about the situation in Mexico. Of late, I’ve been reading some books and talking to some experts down and around the border area and this is not getting better. It shows no signs of improvement in the near future, does it?

Tony Newman: One thing is happening now is people are starting to speak out. Vicente Fox, the former President, recently came out and saying we needed to legalize marijuana as a way to deal with the violence and the profits that the drug cartels are making. Even the current President Calderón has said that he would be open to debate about legalizing marijuana and legalizing drugs in general to help deal a blow to the cartels.

So for the first time, the level of conversation and debate is reaching all the way to the top in Mexico. Obviously, that is not doing anything to bring back the twenty eight thousand people who have been murdered and killed but I think Mexico is ready to have a serious conversation.

It makes it much harder to for President Obama and the Drug Czar to say “legalization is not even in our vocabulary,” when our neighbors to the south, who we send all this money to, a billion dollars to fight the war on drugs. If they are calling for a debate, it make it that much harder for Washington to say, “We can’t have this debate.”

Dean Becker: Now, somewhat tied in wit hthe situation of Prop 19 and the effort to legalize marijuana in California is the fact that Obama – the Obama Administration has given indications that they’re going to be less forceful in going after the medical marijuana clubs and yet they continue to do so and the federal judges continue to deny people the opportunity to say it was medical marijuana. Your thoughts in that regard?

Tony Newman: Well, I do think it was a very big deal when the Obama Administration and the Justice Department said, “We’re going to respect states that have medical marijuana laws and we’re not going to go after them.” As you mentioned, there have been some raids in various states and obviously that’s not a good thing. That’s very upsetting but I still think the tone that has been set with that and I think it’s opened things up around the country. It has given more security to many of the medical marijuana states. I actually think that is something that Obama has done right and should be applauded for. Then, we really get to the question of really talking about marijuana prohibition and they’ve totally silenced any kind of open conversation, which I think is a big mistake.

You know, the Prop 19 has been incredible. Richard Lee, the medical marijuana entrepreneur, put up his own money to get – collect signatures and put this issue on the ballot. Conventional wisdom was wait until 2012, with a presidential race more young people come out.

He decided to go with it now and I think it’s been shown to be a brilliant move. The amount of attention, as I mentioned earlier, it’s the number one highest profile issue in the whole country right now and the organizing that’s been going on. You just mentioned the law enforcement.

Last week, our friends at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), came out and organized a few dozen former law enforcement officials and district attorneys and prosecutors and others to support of marijuana legalization in California. It generated huge coverage.

It was on a story in USA Today a couple of days ago with the title, “Law Enforcement Split on Legalizing Marijuana.” That is a huge victory that our brothers and sisters at LEAP were able to do, to say that, “Now there’s pros and cons. That the cops are divided on this issue.” That’s a win for us when that happens. The law enforcement is just one angle.

We also see the FCIU, the largest union in California with seven hundred thousand members, just came out in support of legalizing marijuana in Prop 19. This is the first time that I have seen so many unions coming on board. They do it for a couple of reasons. One, they say that this can be an increase in jobs and we need jobs right now but they also seeing the larger point and saying, “We can’t waste hundreds of millions of dollars in arresting and incarcerating our fellow citizens for this.”

So, it’s not only the money and the jobs. It’s the money that would be saved by not locking up our fellow citizens. So, we have the law enforcement. We have the unions on board, the NAACP.

Just last week, Alice Huffman, the President of the NAACP in California wrote another powerful op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, talking about how marijuana reform is a racial justice issue.

Your listeners will know this but every single county in California shows African Americans getting arrested twice, three times, four times the rate of Whites even though more Whites typically use marijuana than African Americans. It’s because of who they search and who’s getting stopped. This is a racial justice issue and so not only do you see the NAACP but you see the National Black Police Association coming on board, the Black Chamber of Commerce. So, this is a racial justice issue.

As I mentioned earlier, we have presidents and former presidents in Mexico saying we need to talk about this issue. Prop 19 has created an opening where millions and millions of people are questioning marijuana prohibition and alternatives to it that’s never happened before.

Dean Becker: From what I’ve heard, the effort to legalize or to support Prop 19 doesn’t have deep pockets as of this moment, not does the opposition to Prop 19 but they do have some friends in the alcohol industry, do they not?

Tony Newman: The irony, as you mentioned, one of the people who’ve come out against marijuana legalization. First of all, it’s law enforcement and we know that that’s a little cash cow for them, getting money and arresting people and stacking their budgets and their numbers.

The other people who are opposed to legalizing marijuana, the alcohol industry. They just gave ten thousand dollars and again, it’s almost humorous except that it’s so offensive. Everyone knows that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, leads to more problems and violence, car related deaths. The nerve of them to come out so righteous and say, “Oh, we’re going to get rid of – we’re opposed to marijuana regulation”, you know, I actually think it’s been a good thing for us, though.

Their little ten thousand dollars has generated an enormous amount of coverage, pointing out the hypocrisy of why alcohol – of why alcohol is legal, which is a good thing because prohibition doesn’t work with alcohol but it also doesn’t work with marijuana. I think that their ten thousand dollars is a bigger benefit for us than the money that goes into that campaign.

Dean Becker: Alright, once again we’ve been speaking to Mister Tony Newman of the Drug Policy Alliance. Please Tony, point folks to your website.

Tony Newman: Please check out drugpolicy.org and please go to yesonprop19.org. Whether you are in California or anywhere around the world, this is a referendum on the failed war on marijuana. We all need to be supporting Prop 19. We can make this the vote heard around the world.

Dean, we’ve been talking a lot about the media stuff and in the news and what’s going on in Mexico and California but we also have the popular culture and the debate that’s going on.

Your viewers probably know on HBO we have Boardwalk Empire, which is all about alcohol prohibition, and you can substitute the word alcohol for marijuana. It’s all the same thing. The violence, the incarceration and the corruption that comes from prohibition. Not only do we have the HBO series, The New York Times reporter Daniel Okrent, who wrote a best selling book about alcohol prohibition, that’s being turned into a documentary for PBS, a Ken Burns documentary series.

So, we have people looking at prohibition and questioning prohibition like never before – on our TV sets, in our newspapers, at our universities or sitting around our kitchen table. The time is here; the time is now. California has a chance to make history and we have to end the war on marijuana and marijuana users.

----------------------------

As always, I remind you, there’s no truth, justice, logic, scientific fact, medical data, no reason for this Drug War to exist. Please, do your part to help end the madness. We have been duped. From my perspective, the drug lords control all aspects of information in regards to this war.

Visit our website: endprohibition.org

Prohibido istac evilesco!

----------------------------

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker. Asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs, archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com