10/28/12 Bishop Allen Berry

Natl African Amer Forum: DTN host Dean Becker, Bishop AD Berry, Michael Dirden Houston Ex Policy Chief, Sheriff Adrian Garcia, Ray Hill, Mike Anderson running for DA & Krystal Muhammed of Black Panther Party

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Sunday, October 28, 2012
Guest: 
Bishop Allen Berry
Organization: 
National African American Forum
Download: Audio icon COL_102812.mp3
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Century of Lies / October 28, 2012

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DEAN BECKER: 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.

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DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Century of Lies. Today I’m in a bit of a quandary. I’m working with the National African American Forum to open the dialog to create change to end the era of the new Jim Crow. I’m also a reformer so this week we are going to tune in to a recent seminar held by the National African American Forum at the University of Houston which featured about 8 ministers, a couple of judges, about a hundred other people gathered there to talk about ending the new Jim Crow but it was also the week that the October 22 nd, the effort to stop police brutality, repression and the criminalization of a nation brought focus on the horrors inflicted on the people of Houston, Harris County, Texas by the law enforcement here.

Following the invocation at that seminar, the U of H, I was honored to be the opening speaker as well as moderator. Here’s what I had to say.

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DEAN BECKER: In just a few minutes we’ll hear from our invited guests – Harris Country Sherriff Adrian Garcia, Mike Anderson, the Republican candidate for District Attorney for Harris County, as well as Michael Dirden, the Executive Chief of the HPD and a bit later we’ll have a mock trial featuring the Thurgood Marshall College of Law students.

I am Dean Becker. I produce radio programs for KPFT each Sunday at 6:30. I urge you to tune in to my shows – 90.1 FM. I present the Unvarnished Truth about the drug war. I’m also a former cop, security policeman in the U.S. Air Force and I now speak for LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

I want to share a couple thoughts before we bring on Bishop AD Berry, the President and Chairman of the National African American Forum, who will formally introduce our guests.

I want to read you a poem.

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It won't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime.
Nevertheless, we're for it.

That was written by Franklin P. Adams in 1931 and just as the failure of the prohibition of alcohol became obvious and was overturned so too is the failure of the prohibition becoming obvious. The black market in drugs is the world’s leading marketing organization.

12 and one-half trillion dollars of failure should be enough but the criminal justice system seems to be on an eternal jihad. 1 and one-half trillion taxpayer dollars have been spent over the lifetime of the drug war trying to stop the flow of drugs and yet over this same time span more than 12 trillion dollars have been gathered into the coffers of the Taliban, into the hands of these barbarous Latin cartels in Mexico and into the pockets of more than 30,000 violent U.S. gangs who prowl our neighborhoods with high-powered weapons selling contaminated drugs to our children.

This vast sum of money invites worldwide corruption from Afghanistan to Ghana, from the Sierra Madres of Mexico to every city, town and burg in these United States. Drug war corruption abounds. Corrupted drug tests, faulty urine tests, police officers near universal “testi-lying” in order to obtain a conviction, judges denying PR bonds on misdemeanor cases so their main campaign contributors, the bail bondsman, will keep funding their re-election. Prison guards smuggling drugs, cops transporting cocaine in police vehicles, families terrorized, children are killed in the world’s first eternal drug war.

Most obvious and glaring is the misery inflicted on minority communities via this new Jim Crow mechanism of drug law enforcement which takes 14% of America’s population, the black population, and creates 58% of our prison population.

42 years after Nixon declared the drug war 42 million Americans have been arrested for plant products in their pocket yet drugs are cheaper, purer, more freely available to our children than ever before.

I say legalize drugs for adults and immediately take away 350 billion dollars from the Taliban, the cartels, and the violent U.S. gangs. Judge adults by their actions not the plant products in their pocket as it was prior to this prohibition.

Anyone that dares sell drugs to our children – I say lock them up like we do those who sell the dangerous drugs alcohol and tobacco to children. End the drug war and greatly diminish the corruption of our public servants. We will begin to restore respect for law enforcement who will no longer need to leverage snitches and informants or send so many militaristic SWAT teams charging into our homes. No longer will we deem it appropriate to send armies of officers out to round up black and Hispanic kids like rounding up mustangs on the prairie.

I am certain that Sheriff Garcia, Mr. Anderson and Mr. Dirden are aware of these failings of the drug war however they are constrained from saying too much too soon. Many factors limit what they can say.

First is their individual reputations. They have each made their bones by being tough on crime and cannot easily back down now from their prior announcements. They also owe a debt to the office they hold to those who served before them. They have allegiance to their party – Democrat or Republican – and the party line that does not want to recognize the abject failure of the drug war.

Importantly they fear the societal taboo which made the drug war seem the most dangerous third rail issue of all time. And so I ask them each to clarify, to explain the benefit, to tell us what we derive from this policy that offsets this horrible blowback.

We beseech these gentlemen to begin the process to recognize and admit the failure of drug war and to begin a call for passion instead of incarceration, to work within their party, their departments and to lobby our state and federal officials to undo the decades of hysteria, propaganda and misery of this modern drug war – the new Jim Crow.

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DEAN BECKER: I then introduced the chairman of the National African American Forum, Dr. AD Berry who introduced the next speaker.

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AD BERRY: Chief Dirden is a 25 year veteran of the Houston Police Department. He is currently Assistant Executive Chief of Police with the responsibility for the Strategic Operations Command where he oversees the Homeland Security and Professionals Standards Committee Command. Michael is the Senior Executive in charge of internal affairs division and the training division.

Without further ado let us thank Assistant Chief this morning.

MICHAEL DIRDEN: One of the major issues that we are here to talk about and I think it has some degree of consistency with what our moderators comments regarding the War on Drugs is the notion of building positive relationships with community and when I say notion I am speaking from a perspective that it is something that the police have a responsibility to do and the community has a responsibility as well.

Seems to me that we’ve had this discussion the entire time that I’ve been employed as a police officer – about building positive relationships with the community. One thing that strikes me about that concept is that while there is a continuing need to build positive relationships we cannot ignore the fact that there already exists positive relationships between the police and community.

We still have to do better. If you look at surveys and you look at community insight overwhelmingly most segments of our community experience positive relationships with the police. But speaking as an African American male and somebody who grew up in the inner city the one aspect of the community that we don’t have positive relationships with is typically African American males 16 to 32 years of age.

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DEAN BECKER: I’m going to interrupt Chief Dirden’s comments to bring you the thoughts of Krystal Muhammed who is the head of the Houston Chapter of Blank Panther party from October 22 nd.

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KRYSTAL MUHAMMED: Power to the People. We continue to move forward and call on the system of racism, fascism in regards to police departments in Houston and across the nation.

Houston, unfortunately, holds the number one and three spot in the nation in police abuse. Harris County is number one in the nation for police brutality. There is a direct correlation to the fact that Harris County is also number one in the nation for prison incarceration and also number one in the nation for the death penalty.

There is a direct correlation between police and injustice. There is a direct correlation between who the police target. They target black, brown and poor communities because they make financial benefit from it. They get money based on arrests. They target communities that they know can’t fight them and they use brutality many times when you trying exercise your so-called rights.

The problem is there is profit motivation behind this police and court system The 13th amendment allegedly ended slavery but it didn’t. It said you cannot be made a slave. Unless you commit a crime you brought back into slavery. They can discriminate on you worse than they did in 1865 because under the title criminal you can’t even get a job.

So instead of just discriminating you based on race they based on you being crime but still it is on race because they target black, brown and poor white communities. We need to call it what it is – it is the continuation of slavery.

We must abolish slavery. The death penalty is lynching. It is legalized lynching. It is nothing more and nothing less.

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DEAN BECKER: And now a few more thoughts from Assistant Police Chief of Houston, Micheal Dirden.

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MICHAEL DIRDEN: And to be quite frank, police departments have done a poor job of going out in the community to talk to those groups so we have a responsibility in that as well. We don’t go out as much because we like to talk to the 40 to 60-year-old black males and black females because you know why? Despite what the voting records and all the other stuff say they are the most conservative people on the planet.

They live in the neighborhoods. They want the neighborhoods in the community to be safe.

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DEAN BECKER: OK, I’m chopping this up pretty good but here, once again, is the chairman of the NAAF, Bishop Berry.

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AD BERRY: Next we have Harris County Sheriff, Adrian Garcia. Sheriff Garcia was elected to city council in 2003. He chaired the Committee on Public Safety. He returned back to law enforcement roots in 2009 as the newly elected Sheriff.

ADRIAN GARCIA: Thank you, Bishop. It’s good to be here. I want to thank ya’ll for taking time out of your schedules to be here as well.

I understand the purpose of today’s forum is to talk about how we can collaborate, how we can work together and at the end of the day what we want is a healthier, safer and stronger community. We want a community where our young people cannot be influenced in the most negative ways and be stolen from our families, be stolen from us that puts them on a pathway of destruction and ultimate incarceration.

Every day I take in about 3 to 400 people and I release about 3 to 400 people a day. In the county jail we have about 25% of our population that on some day they are prescribed or they are being prescribed some level of psychotropic medication – about 25% of my population is on some degree of psychotropic medication – they are mentally ill.

Trying to keep people from being arrested and being brought into the county jail system simply because they are sick…in that regard we are working very closely with the Houston Police Department. We have partnered our crisis intervention response teams.

So today deputies are partnered with clinicians from the mental health and mental retardation authority or association so that we can find ways to plug those folks into services and treatment that they need, that is best suited for them versus being brought to the county jail.

We are doing our best and I think that is important to mention because, look, one of the things that I’ve noticed about some of the folks that come into the county jail is that the beds are not the most comfortable, the company is not the greatest, the food is the not the best but some people keep coming back.

So I just assume that whatever man-made laws and structures we have just haven’t been working so I’m proud to be working with our chaplains and we’re putting the church in the mix of all the other things we are trying to do in hopes that the good Lord can touch their lives, change their lives and, ultimately, save their lives.

So thank you, once again, for allowing me to be here.

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DEAN BECKER: You know I kind of like Sheriff Garcia and he’s certainly not to blame for all the horrors inflicted by law enforcement in this state, county, city. He could do more and he knows that.

This is my good friend and mentor, the man who first put me on the air waves of Pacifica, Mr. Ray Hill, the former producer of the Prison Show.

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RAY HILL: There are usually 12 cases of police murder of unarmed people in this jurisdiction every year. Almost one a month for over 25 years before we got the first uniformed police officer who murdered someone while on duty indicted and convicted in a Texas court. His name was Carbineau and, of course, the whole system stacked the jury buy they found him guilty anyway because the crime was too onerous to walk away from.

But he went the judge for the sentencing and the judge gave him probation. There was a bunch of us sitting there glaring at that bench. After she left she came back and said and 180 days jail time.

So he spent 6 months in jail for killing a 14-year-old special education Hispanic male by wrestling him to the ground and blowing his brains out with the help of another officer who testified against him in the trial.

They lie, they cheat, they steal, they kill in cold blood and their relatives control the jury selection process in Harris County so they stack the jury. Have you ever noticed that in this recent Occupy case where the undercover cops from Austin and the whole black ops division of Occupy was a bunch of cops. They’re sitting there, “Let’s do this. Let’s do that. They can get us all into trouble.”

Friends of mine made fun of the black ops but they didn’t have enough sense to understand that they were being infiltrated and that’s what was happening. Now they’ve had one trial. The guy walked out whistling Dixie with no problems.

You got a defendant sitting right here. They haven’t taken him to trial because they’ve got wait long enough for the jury panel clerks to assemble another stacked jury so the next one can get away with it. It’s serial. It goes on and on and on. Hell, they couldn’t try my case for my last arrest because they can only fix one jury at a time and my case came up in the middle of the other case.

We are living in a city where poor people, black people, brown people, gay people are readily killed.

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DEAN BECKER: Again that was recorded at the October 22nd Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation – a gathering here in Houston.

Now we go back to the recent gathering at the University of Houston at the National African American Forum.

Sheriff Garcia’s speech is done and as moderator I ask a question presented from the audience.

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DEAN BECKER: …very similar…several of these…they’re saying how can you live productively when you cannot get a job or obtain public assistance, housing, credit, on down the line with that record?

ADRIAN GARCIA: We are talking to a lot of folks because unless we think through how we want people to live their lives once they have paid for their mistakes…I mean they are supposed to be some justice in being handled for your mistakes and being incarcerated and completing your time and being released out into the community. We have to think about that.

We are talking to a lot of different agencies. We are holding…Carlton is helping have job fairs inside the county jail. We don’t want people to do things illegally then we got to figure out ways for them to do things legally.

We have had the first job fair inside the county jail so that perspective employers can think about these inmates and take a chance on them in hopes that they will latch on to the opportunity and make good at it.

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DEAN BECKER: Once again, Dr. AD Berry, Chairman of the National African American Forum to introduce the next speaker.

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AD BERRY: We now have Mike Anderson who is the Republican nominee for Harris County District Attorney. Mike has been a prosecutor and a judge and has earned a representation for honesty and integrity.

MIKE ANDERSON: Thank you so much for allowing me to come and talk to you a little bit today. There are about 600 people who work at the District Attorney’s office – give or take 250 prosecutors, investigators and also support staff.

Most people will have one time to come down to the court house as a victim and they should leave that experience feeling that justice was served, that they were well represented, that their case was taken seriously and that the right thing was done. That needs to be done again with cooperation from the community, law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office.

What you end up having is safer neighborhoods for everyone. Sheriff Garcia answered a question about small amounts of drugs. Well, you know, truthfully it’s against the law to possess a small amount of drugs and if the legislature wants to change that they can but, on the other end, as District Attorney you take an oath to follow the law as it is written from the legislature and the legislature says if you are found in possession of less than a gram of heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine then it’s a stage L felony.

Now, the legislature also says that you automatically get probation the first time that you are arrested for that if you are found guilty. You automatically get probation for a first offense. It’s in the law. What that means is there is a great opportunity for rehabilitation at that time.

Now I’m an old drug court judge. I was fortunate enough to be the presiding judge over one of our STAR courts, one of our drug courts down at the courthouse. There are young people out there that turn to drugs for whatever reason. Many of them just don’t know any better. They have no idea about the life of a drug addict is like until they’re in the middle of it. They have no idea what that road leads to.

It sure looks good. You’ve got some guy who dropped out of school. He doesn’t have to go to school. “Man, look at all the money he’s making. Look at the car he’s driving. Look at all the jewelry he’s got. Man, he’s got it made. Why should I do my homework? Why should I go to school every day? Why should I go to church with you, Ma?”

We have got to bridge that gap using our churches and our community organizations to mentor and to guide these young people. We’ve lost too many generations. We can’t continue to let that happen.

But that only happens if you have, again, a relationship between community, police and the District Attorney. And you’ve got to use the law. I can’t do anything with them if they don’t get arrested. I’ve had friends of mine call me and say, “You know, Mike, we went to high school together. I’ve got a son I can’t do anything with him. Can you arrest him and put him drug treatment?”

Kind of like Sheriff Garcia said. No, I can’t and this was when I was on the bench. I can’t do that. “We can’t afford to pay for treatment for him.”

And I’ll say, “Well, I understand that but the bottom line is unless he’s arrested or she’s arrested I don’t have any power to help them.”

And, again, there’s some folks who think somebody gets arrested for drugs they should spend the rest of their life in jail. Well, that‘s their opinion. I run into people, unfortunately all the time at the courthouse, that need to spend the rest of their life in jail and we know what to do with them. I think we’re learning what to do with people that are struggling with addiction and need to be in recovery and need to get their lives back.

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DEAN BECKER: Going to break in here to say that Mike Anderson – who you’ve just been listening to, running for District Attorney of Harris County on the Republican ticket – is 99% sure to win on the ballot. Despite his thoughts about drug court and compassion, he’s the guy that will return Houston to a situation whereby empty bags of cocaine, meth or heroin can be used to convict somebody of a felony and send them away for years to a Texas prison system which has done away with treatment and all that compassion crap.

Following Mike Anderson’s remarks I got a chance to ask a question from the audience that dealt with a Texas House Bill 2391 which says it’s no longer necessary to arrest or jail anybody for under 4 ounces of marijuana, for check writing, graffiti and other crimes under $500 and asked why we continue to fill our county jail with those people.

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MIKE ANDERSON: Whether it’s necessary or not the police officer has the discretion and if a person is in possession of 5 ounces or less of marijuana, 4 ounces or less of marijuana – well, that’s against the law and a police officer certainly has the discretion to arrest that person.

It takes away a valuable tool from police when we write a ticket to somebody who has crack cocaine or a crack pipe. You can eat a crack rock. You cannot eat a crack pipe unless you are very, very dedicated, I guess, but it just doesn’t happen.

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DEAN BECKER: Please note this law, House Bill 2391, has absolutely nothing to do with crack cocaine.

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MIKE ANDERSON: What happens is police officers who are trying to climb that ladder to get to the dealers use the users. They’ll say, “Hey, you have a small amount of crack cocaine here.”

“Yes, sir, I do.”

“I got to take you down.”

“Who did you get it from?”

“That guy over there.”

“Really? What if do this? What if let you go and I watch you and I’ll put a wire on you and you got buy some more from him?”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

And he goes over and buys some and then we get the dealer. Then we go to that dealer and we say, “Where did you get yours?”

And he says, “Well, I got it from a guy over on 3 rd Street.”

“Really? What’s his name?”

“His name is this.”

“Will you say that in a statement so I can write out a warrant?”

“Yes, sir I will if maybe you’ll go easier on me or whatever they do.”

But then we climb the ladder and we finally get to those people that are poisoning our community. They are killing young people.

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DEAN BECKER: Never mind the fact that he’s talking about crack cocaine. The question was about marijuana. Never mind the fact that climbing the ladder has done absolutely no good. As my opening statement said, 42 years of drug war, 42 million arrests yet drugs are cheaper, purer, more freely available to our children than ever before.

He’s the one living in the pipe dream He’s the one determined to smoke the lives of his fellow man.

So as we’re wrapping it up here I’d like to say that the National African American Forum and all the ministers and good folks give me some inspiration, some hope that the future might get better. With the election of Mike Anderson we’re destined to return to the gulag filling station of planet earth.

I want to remind you, once again, the drug war is a scam, it is flim-flam. It has no nexus with reality. It’s a fraud perpetrated on the peoples of earth in the name of the profits (spelled with an i). Prohibido istac evilesco!

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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 the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org