06/19/19 Hari Jones

This week on Century, historian and author Hari Jones speaks about Juneteenth, and the California State Assembly approves a measure to allow San Francisco to set up a supervised consumption facility.

Program: 
Century of Lies
Date: 
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
Guest: 
Hari Jones
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CENTURY OF LIES

JUNE 19, 2019

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.

Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugPolicyFacts.org.

On today’s show we’re going to talk about supervised consumption sites, also known as sanitary injection facilities or overdose prevention sites. But first:

This show is being recorded on the day before Juneteenth. Now, the Library of Congress has described Juneteenth as, quote:

"one of the oldest observances marking the end of the enslavement of African descendants in the United States. The holiday has been celebrated in Galveston, Texas, since June 19, 1865, when news of the Emancipation Proclamation first was announced in Texas. Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom with an emphasis on education and literacy." End quote.

Juneteenth is officially a state holiday or state holiday observance in 45 states, and is observed throughout the nation. On today’s show, we’re going to hear about Juneteenth, its history, and its meaning to the African American community and to the nation as a whole.

In 2015, the Library of Congress held the Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium on Black Literature and Literacy. The opening address at this symposium was delivered by Hari Jones. Mister Jones was an historian and author who served as Assistant Director and Curator at the African American Civil War Freedom Foundation and Museum in Washington, DC.

HARI JONES: Today, I will begin by telling you a lie. That lie is that on June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas finally learned that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

This lie has been advanced in legislation, in the popular culture as an explanation for Juneteenth celebrations. This lie is predicated on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Emancipation Proclamation and its enforcement.

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 as, quote, "A fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion." Close quote.

In that fit and necessary war measure, President Lincoln declared forever free all persons held as slaves in the ten states that were at war with the United States for their independence on January 1, 1863.

In the five still holding states that did not Abraham Lincoln as -- that accepted Abraham Lincoln as president; the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply. It only applied to the states that had to be brought back into the Union by military conquest.

On September 22, 1862, in the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln warned the rebellious states, giving them one hunred days to return to the Union or he was going to declare free their slaves.

Frederick Douglas, eight days later, wrote in his monthly that in order for the Emancipation Proclamation to free any slaves, two conditions had to be met.

The first condition was that the states in rebellion still had to be in rebellion as of January 1, 1863. And the second condition was, quote, "We must have the ability to put down the rebellion." Close quote.

In late 1862, the enslaved knew that in order to be freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, they would have to contribute to suppressing the rebellion, thus to preserving the Union. And this would have to be done through military conquest. Thus begun -- thus began their military campaign for emancipation and union.

It was understood by many members of Congress, the President's cabinet, the Confederate legislature and Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, that the Emancipation Proclamation was a cry for help to America's African-descent population.

Jefferson Davis told the Confederate legislature in January 1863 that the Emancipation Proclamation was, quote, "An authentic statement by the government of the United States of its inability to subjugate the south by force of arms." Close quote.

Meanwhile in Texas, there is clear evidence that enslaved persons in Galveston knew of the Emancipation Proclamation in late 1862. Galveston was captured by the Union Navy in October 1862, a navy comprised of 25 percent African-American sailors.

The Austrian Consul at Galveston wrote a letter to the Union Naval Commander, Admiral William Renshaw, stating that Texas slaves had run away and been given refuge by Renshaw's fleet. The Consul wanted to know if his slaves ran away, would the Admiral return them? Renshaw unequivocally said, "No."

Only a small army force, the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry, was assigned to occupied Galveston and the rebels recaptured Galveston on the day the final Emancipation Proclamation was issued, January 1, 1863.

Union soldiers and sailors were taken as prisoners of war, and these Union soldiers and sailors with knowledge of the Emancipation Proclamation reported contact with enslaved Texans as some were assigned to the POWs as cooks.

The Union's strategic plan neglected military operations in Texas through much of 1863. Lincoln's priority in the west was on controlling the Mississippi River. And Lincoln believed that the only way the Mississippi could be controlled is with the help of the African descent population.

When General Nathaniel Banks started a Texas expedition along the Red River, he was ordered back to the Mississippi in support of General Ulysses S. Grant's campaign against Vicksburg.

The Louisiana Native Guards, the first African descent regimen mustered into the Union Army, under the field command of African descent commissioned officers led by Captain Andre Cailloux, assaulted the rebel position at Port Hudson along the Mississippi three times on May 27, 1863.

Though these sable soldiers failed to capture the rebel fort, they were successful in keeping the rebels at Port Hudson from reinforcing the rebels at Vicksburg. Therefore they had accomplished their primary objective.

Grant captured Vicksburg on July 4, 1863. Now Lincoln had called Vicksburg the key to victory. And after capturing Vicksburg, Grant wrote to President Lincoln and told President Lincoln that Vicksburg could not have been captured when it was without the help of these African-American soldiers.

The general goes on to tell the President, quote, "By arming the Negro, we have added a powerful ally." Close quote.

Such powerful allies would participate in General Banks' Texas expedition in November 1863. Rebel blockade runners were able to bring supplies into Texas along Texas's southernmost coast. And Banks was ordered to take that part of the Texas coast.

Five Corps d’Afrique regiments -- regiments comprised of African-American soldiers from Louisiana -- took part in Banks's successful Texas expedition making up ten percent of the conquering force, capturing and conquering the Texas Gulf coast from Indianola to Brownsville. These conquering soldiers brought word of the Emancipation Proclamation to Texas.

John Bates was ten years old when these military operations were going on in Texas. Bates pointed out in his WPA slave narrative that word, quote, "traveled purty fast," and that's P-U-R-T-Y -- traveled pretty fast in Limestone County, Texas where he was enslaved.

Indeed, Bates goes on to report that it was the enslaved on the plantation where he was that told the planter that they were free.

The first state in rebellion to be brought back in the Union thus having its enslaved free by the Emancipation Proclamation was Arkansas. It took one year and four months to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation in a rebellious state and that state was not Virginia with its proximity to Washington.

That state was the western state of Arkansas, bordering Texas. When Arkansas was brought back into the Union as a free state on April 11, 1864, there were thousands of African descent soldiers enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation in Arkansas.

Meanwhile back in the East, in 1864, African descent soldiers for the first time were deployed in the Army of the Potomac after General Grant became the general in charge in command of all the armies.

In December 1864, General Benjamin F. Butler, the commander of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, organized the 25th Army Corps, the only Army Corps in American history made up of only African descent regiments. Butler wrote of his African descent soldiers, quote, "Better soldiers never shouldered a musket." Close quote.

General Grant wrote in his memoirs that on April 3, 1865, the 25th Army Corps under the command of General Godfrey Weitzel captured Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy.

The headlines in the Washington, DC newspaper, The National Republican, read, quote, "Glorious Fall of Richmond Captured by the Black Troops". Close quote. These sable soldiers of the 25th went on to stop Robert E. Lee's army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, forcing their surrender -- his surrender there on April 9, 1865.

Though some contemporary scholars falsely claimed that these highly regarded soldiers were prohibited from participating in the grand review of the armies in Washington on May 22nd -- 23rd and 24th, 1865 because of their race, without complaint, these highly motivated sable soldiers stood ready to go to Texas and enforce the Emancipation Proclamation in May of 1865.

Thomas Morris Chester, an African descent war correspondent, reported that on the eve of the grand review, the word that they were embarking for Texas was received in their camps, quote, "With a great deal of satisfaction."

Out in Texas, African descent soldiers who had been there for months engaged rebel soldiers in combat in May of 1865. Galveston was captured and occupied by the Union Navy on June 5, 1865. By the end of the first week of June, the 25th Army Corps and thousands of other reinforcements were arriving in the Lone Star State.

In the early morning of June 15, 1865, the rebel governor and thousands of rebel soldiers were chased out of the United States into Mexico by this imposing Union force. The tradition of the Juneteenth Ball on June 16th was thus established.

General Gordon Granger was the commander of the New Department of Texas. His immediate superior, General Philip Sheridan, ordered Granger to publish general orders informing the people of Texas that all the laws enacted by the rebel governor and legislature were null and void, that federal laws applied and thus the Emancipation Proclamation had freed all the slaves in Texas forever.

Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865 and he reported to General Sheridan that when he arrived that morning, there was a brigade of the 25th Army Corps already in Galveston.

Over a thousand African-American soldiers, heroes of Virginia, were in Galveston over a week before Granger showed up. Later that day, Granger published General Order Number Three and the military campaign for emancipation and union was officially declared over.

Let us therefore celebrate the 150th anniversary of the end of the successful campaign for emancipation and union. On this Juneteenth, let us embrace the truth, reject the lie, and pledge ourselves to achieving liberty and justice for all in this, our indivisible American republic. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was historian and author Hari Jones. He was speaking at the Juneteenth Book Festival Symposium on Black Literature and Literacy, which was held by the Library of Congress on June 19, 2015. Mister Jones sadly passed away in 2018.

You’re listening to Century of Lies. I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugPolicyFacts.org

Community service workers and harm reduction advocates around the US have been working for years now to set up legally authorized supervised injection facilities. Cities and counties are working with state legislatures to enact and implement these urgent public health interventions in spite of active opposition by the White House.

The Department of Justice has threatened legal action against states, municipalities, and social service nonprofits that intend to open an SCS. In response to the DOJ's threats, Representative Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state, has introduced an amendment to the Justice Department appropriations bill to prevent the DOJ from interfering.

The amendment simply states, quote:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to prohibit States and localities from establishing or implementing safe consumption sites.” End quote.

On June 17, the Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board called on other members of Congress to support Representative Jayapal's amendment. Pennsylvania and Washington are two of the states that are close to establishing supervised injection facilities.

Another is California. That state’s legislature failed to pass a measure allowing SIFs last session. Proponents were able to have that bill held over to this session so it’s once again being considered by the California legislature.

Assembly Bill 362 was approved by the California State Assembly on May 23 and was sent to the Senate, where it’s been assigned to committee and is awaiting action. We’re going to hear a bit now from that Assembly session on May 23.

First up, the measure’s lead author, California State Assembly Member Susan Eggman, MD, Democrat from Stockton.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER SUSAN EGGMAN, MD: Thank you very much, Mister Speaker. Members, I am presenting today AB 362, which won't be new for any of us.

This bill will allow San Francisco to overdose -- to pilot an overdose prevention program. As we know there is an opioid epidemic in the state of California and across the country, and we know that we have tried and true methods of intervention and early treatment prevention to be able to treat this.

In the -- in northern America we have been hesitant to do this. We continue to see overdose and deaths. We continue to see the increase of hepatitis C, of HIV, of people being -- overdosing in alleys. We continue to see people in our emergency system, police responding, emergency rooms overwhelmed.

So all we're saying is, let's give people treatment earlier than later. We are in no way condoning drug abuse, but what we are saying is having a drug addiction should not be a death sentence.

We know that the best way to get people into treatment is to begin having a relationship with them very early on. We know that people who use, who are homeless and are using on our streets, in our school grounds, in our churchyards, are leaving needles that are dangerous for children, dangerous for other animals, and not good for anybody involved.

We know that there is a way to be able to pilot this. San Francisco is willing to pilot it. It has a very short sunset on it. They will come back with a report about the implementation. The bill requires that law enforcement be at the table in order to establish where these are going to be.

There is a -- every overdose -- every drug addiction specialty is in support of this. The American Medical Association is now in support of it also. Again, we have time tested and true interventions. This gets people into treatment. This tells people they don't have to be destined to die on the streets.

This tells people that we know we have more important things to do with our public safety people than going out to overdose on the streets.

We know this also means that people don't have to sit in ERs taking up space, in jails taking up space, but that we can treat them where they -- where they live. We can treat them where they are in the moment and be able to invite them maybe to get an abscess fixed, maybe to be able to get a reprieve from domestic violence.

We know in these overdose prevention centers, nobody has ever died of an overdose. All we're saying is give San Francisco a chance to give people a shot at treatment and at life. I respectfully ask for your aye vote.

DOUG MCVAY: That was California State Assembly Member Doctor Susan Eggman, Democrat from Stockton. Now let’s hear from California State Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, Democrat from West Covina.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER BLANCA RUBIO: Thank you Mister Speaker. I’m rising today in support of the prevention centers because I know that we all know that the opioid crisis is touching every single community.

This is specific to San Francisco County and San Francisco. The mayor of San Francisco was here last year, and she expressed her willingness to try this out.

If this program does not work, then it will not be expanded to any other communities. If it does work, then we have a model to help all of our communities across the state to help these folks.

We're not providing -- the bill does not provide the drugs for those folks. They already have the drugs, they're providing safe injection facilities. We cannot just sit back and do nothing.

I grew up in downtown LA. Most of my friends, a lot of my friends, were either in gangs or addicted to drugs, and unfortunately a lot of those are gone.

If we do not look for ways to solve this issue, we're going to be in the same place that we are today. This is the opportunity to try this out. The mayor of San Francisco is willing to try it in her community, and if it works, we can expand the program.

I respectfully ask for your aye vote. This is a crisis that needs to be handled and we can't handle it if we're just sitting back pretending that it doesn't exist. I respectfully ask for your aye vote.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Assembly Member Blanca Rubio, Democrat from West Covina. Now let’s hear from California State Assembly Member Laura Friedman, Democrat from Burbank.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER LAURA FRIEDMAN: Thank you, Mister Speaker and Members. I stand today as a co-author of AB 362, and my only issue with the bill right now is that it's limited to San Francisco.

And I would point out to my colleagues, who say that they believe that this isn't the way to address the drug epidemic, I would ask, well then what is the way? Because what we're doing right now is clearly not working, and defending the status quo and doing next to nothing when we know that there are other solutions out there that cities are willing to try, is simply not acceptable in the face of the drug epidemic.

And in case anybody thinks that this is some kind of crazy shot in the dark of a solution, let me remind everybody that Canada has employed this very same solution for years, and has seen in the areas around the safe injection sites a drop in crime, a drop in deaths, a drop in disease, and many other positive results.

Now, in Los Angeles and in many other parts of the state where we have drugs, we've also seen outbreaks of hepatitis and other communicable diseases. Having people in facilities with trained medical professionals, which is what these facilities offer, is a way to recognize and treat disease before they become an epidemic in our entire community.

So, if not for the addicts themselves, and it should be for the addicts themselves, but if that's not, if their lives don't mean enough for you to take this measure, then think about the rest of the community and what they're bearing with people who are living on the streets and without medical care.

This is a way to get people into medical treatment that's proven and that works. And with that I would ask you to look deep into your heart, and vote aye on this measure today. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Assembly Member Laura Friedman, Democrat from Burbank. Now let’s hear from California State Assembly Member David Chiu, Democrat from San Francisco.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER DAVID CHIU: Thank you Mister Speaker. Colleagues, appreciate your consideration of a pilot of the overdose prevention program. And let me thank your colleague from Stockton for her long advocacy on this issue, and as we just heard from one of our colleagues, unfortunately, at this time, through the legislative process, we have decided to just narrow this to our city of San Francisco, and I'm very appreciative, as a representative of San Francisco, to have the opportunity for this dialogue.

But I do hope that we are able to test if it works, and it is that narrow. This is an idea that, I think, many of us when we first hear about it, it takes a little time to understand it and to understand what the data is, but if you look around the world, at studies around the globe, we have seen this work, and this is why public health professionals support it.

If you look at it from a fiscal standpoint, this is something that could save millions of dollars because it already has in other jurisdictions.

If you look at it from a public safety standpoint, the reason law enforcement supports this is they know this is a different solution that actually works.

But, in short, there are thousands of people who are dying on the streets, in our communities, up and down the state of California. What we're asking for this bill is to allow for one pilot in a city that is seven by seven square miles, to see if this will work. And if it does, we can have a conversation about expanding it around the state.

At the end of the day, we have a duty to make sure we're doing everything we can to save the lives of our constituents. I respectfully ask for your support.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Assembly Member David Chiu, Democrat from San Francisco. Finally, let’s hear from California State Assembly Member Chad Mayes, Republican from Rancho Mirage.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY SPEAKER ANTHONY RENDON: Thank you, Mister Chiu. Mister Mayes, you are recognized.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER CHAD MAYES: Thank you Mister Speaker. Members, when this bill was brought before the Health Committee, when I first saw that, my first gut instinct was that I was going to vote no on this measure, just like some of you, if you had read this, you'd think, oh, I can't support this. It's going to be politically difficult for me to be able to do so.

But we know that drug addiction is a serious problem. It is in my district, and I'll tell you that I care as much about the addicts in my district as I do about the addicts in the city and county of San Francisco, and the truth is, what we're doing is not working.

The criminal justice system is failing these people. This might not be the overall answer, but for goodness' sake, let's try something else. I know that my colleague, the author, the member from Stockton, has put a tremendous amount of work into this. I know that there's support locally with the city and county of San Francisco, that they will be supervising this -- these programs, and for that reason I'll be supporting this measure again today.

DOUG MCVAY: That was California State Assembly Member Chad Mayes, Republican from Rancho Mirage. He was speaking in support of Assembly Bill 362. That measure would allow the city and county of San Francisco to set up a supervised injection facility as a short-term pilot project.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY SPEAKER ANTHONY RENDON: Doctor Eggman, you may close.

CA STATE ASSEMBLY MEMBER SUSAN EGGMAN, MD: Thank you very much, Mister Speaker, and Members, and thank you all for the conversation.

I think we've evolved over the course of the years that we've been talking about this. Well we don't talk about it with the same level of vitriol towards the people who are addicts or the people who want to try to do something to help.

This is an issue of treatment. This is an issue of redemption and hope. This is an issue about how do we treat the least of us. That is the true calling, I think, that we're all, all of us who will, who come here, come to say, what are we doing for the least of us? How can we extend the Christian love, I'll say it like that, how do we extend that? And that -- that love, that hope, that respect, to every single person.

This is not a perfect bill. This has a report back every year, this has a six year sunset on it, this is part of a treatment continuum. The center in San Francisco who has so far said that they are willing to do it, it is a continuum of treatment. This is about saving lives. It's about saving money. And it's about gathering more data on what we can actually do to address this crisis in a comprehensive way.

I respectfully ask for your aye vote.

DOUG MCVAY: The measure was approved by the state assembly on a vote of 44 in favor versus 26 opposed. AB 362 is now in the California State Senate.

And that's it for this week. I want to thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugPolicyFacts.org.

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs, including this show, Century of Lies, as well as the flagship show of the Drug Truth Network, Cultural Baggage, and of course our daily 420 Drug War News segments, are all available by podcast. The URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at DrugTruth.net.

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We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.