03/13/11 Joseph Collum

Joseph Collum, author "The Black Dragon - Racial Profiling Exposed" + Terry Nelson of LEAP and Drug War Facts with Mary Jane Borden

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Guest: 
Joseph Collum
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Cultural Baggage / March 13, 2011

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

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My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of aNew York drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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Hello my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a moment we’re going to bring on the author of a great new book, The Black Dragon: Racial Profiling Exposed. It’s award winning investigative journalist, Joseph Collum.

But first, I want to report some breaking news.

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This is from Reuters:

Owsley "Bear" Stanley, a 1960s counterculture figure who flooded the flower power scene with LSD and was an early benefactor of the Grateful Dead, died in a car crash in his adopted home country of Australia” today. He was believed to be 76 [years old].

"He made acid so pure and wonderful that people like Jimi Hendrix wrote hit songs about it and others named their band in its honor," [according to] former rock 'n' roll tour manager Sam Cutler.”

Hendrix's song "Purple Haze" was reputedly inspired by a batch of Stanley's product... The ear-splitting psychedelic-blues combo Blue Cheer took its named from another batch.

According to a 2007 profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, Stanley started cooking LSD after discovering the recipe in a chemistry journal at the University of California, Berkeley.

The police raided his first lab in 1966, but Stanley successfully sued for the return of his equipment. After a marijuana bust in 1970, he went to prison for two years.

"I wound up doing time for something I should have been rewarded for," he told the Chronicle's Joel Selvin.

"What I did was a community service, the way I look at it. I was punished for political reasons. Absolutely meaningless. Was I a criminal? No. I was a good member of society. Only my society and the one making the laws are different."

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Dean Becker: Blue Cheer, Orange Wedge and Orange Sunshine – all hold a special place in my memories of my early years.

Timothy Leary is dead.

Owsly is dead.

Alright, let’s bring on our guest, Mister Joseph Collum, the author of The Black Dragon: Racial Profiling Exposed. Hello, Joseph.

Joseph Collum: Hi, Dean. How are you?

Dean Becker: I’m well. Thank you for being with us. Your book tells a very important story and one that we need to recognize about our nation, in this particular instance New Jersey’s history, right?

Joseph Collum: Yeah, I think it focuses on New Jersey but I think it’s a larger tale of what happened thought the whole – the entire country throughout the 1980s and 1990s and it’s probably still going on I’m sure.

Dean Becker: Well.

Joseph Collum: New Jersey was kind of the birthplace of what became known as racial profiling and that’s what the story is about, it tells that story and it tells – it talks about the people more than anything, the people who invented profiling, discovered profiling, fought against profiling and the people who were victimized by profiling. It’s a kind of a sweeping tale that covers two decades and—

Dean Becker: The effort and the undoing at least the most of the effort. Let’s go to the name of the book, The Black Dragon, what does that refer to?

Joseph Collum: The Black Dragon is the nickname of the New Jersey Turnpike. It was a—the New Jersey turnpike was built in 1951 and at the time it was considered to be the greatest highway in the world at that time. It was a 120 and some mile long stretch of asphalt and troopers actually who patrolled the highway, dubbed it the black dragon and when I heard that – it’s not a wildly known fact because everybody always asks me, “What’s the black dragon?” They think it’s like some kind of fantasy tale or something. That’s the highway, the Jersey turnpike.

During the 1980s, it was the most heavily traveled highway in American. 200 million cars a year drove up and down it led in and out of New York City and thus became the main gateway, New York being the drug capitol of America at the time.

It became the road in and out of the drug capital and that’s kind of what led – set up the whole method of intercepting drugs on the highways, which is what racial profiling in this context, is all about.

Dean Becker: Alright, Joseph you know it’s been shown time and time again that Blacks, Whites and Hispanics use drugs approximately the same across the board. Yet, included in your book the thought that Blacks accounted for 13.5% of the traffic on this Jersey Turnpike but 76% of the drugs, weapons arrests. That’s almost 6-to-1, you know per population.

Joseph Collum: Yeah.

Dean Becker: They had special names that they used when they made these stop little code words, did they not?

Joseph Collum: Well, They had a whole jargon. We’re talking, you know, the state police here because the state police, New Jersey’s state police was the agency that patrolled the Jersey Turnpike, the Black Dragon.

Over time they developed their own language, really, to try and disguise what they were doing. Their terms for Blacks, when they would pull them over or see them on the highway and radio them in, they would call them “Johnnies” or CBs which is – or “Charlie Bravo” which is cypher for “colored boy” or a carload of Blacks would be a “load of coal.”

Dean Becker: Oh boy.

Joseph Collum: Or if you had the a Black and a White together there were a “salt and pepper team.” They would try to use this to keep other troopers who are not involved in profiling and were against profiling from determining what they were doing and also keeping it off the recordings and the records and stuff, who they were actually out there talking about.

Dean Becker: Once again, we are speaking with Joseph Collum, author of The Black Dragon: Racial Profiling Exposed and it does a good job of exposing that but perhaps, I’ll come to the question later of what can be done to further undo this thing because, as you indicated early on, it still continues. There are still cities in Louisiana and Southeast Texas where racial profiling goes on, in particular in attempt to grab somebody’s car or what’s in their wallet under the forfeiture laws. That still continues nationwide, does it not?

Joseph Collum: Well, my book covers about up to the early 2000s. So, I’m not as savvy as to what’s going on today, as to what happened during that time perios, but that was one of the big and most shocking things about what was happening on the Jersey Turnpike.

New Jersey passed a law in the eighties that anybody who is stopped driving on the highway and discovered to have more than $5000 in cash, that cash was subject to investigation. An investigation in this case meant they would bring in drug sniffing dogs and if the dog barked at the money, that money was considered drug money and was seized.

I tell the tale in the book about one case in particular of a woman from North Carolina who had driven to New York to borrow $10,000 from a family friend to open a restaurant in Lumberton, North Carolina. She drove up to New York and was driving back on the turnpike and was pulled over and they discovered this cash and brought it in and had the dogs sniff it. The dog barked at it and they took her $10,000 away.

Dean Becker: (Laughs) I’m sorry for laughing.

Joseph Collum: That happened over and over. It’s so ridiculous but in the 1980s, they – the state police in one year confiscated over $5 million doing that. Almost every day there would be stories in the newspapers about, “State Police grab $19,000. State Police grab $7,000 or $10,000” and it became a river of gold for the state police and the money just kept coming.

The more people they stopped, they were looking for drugs, guns, but if they had money they would take your money and then let you go. Even if you had no drugs on you but you money was “contaminated,” they would just seize it.

I was a reporter at the time, in fact, i was the reporter that kind of exposed profiling in New Jersey back in a – a long time ago (Laughs). When I as much younger and one of the things that we did because, we discovered what was going on with the money confiscation.

We took $1000 that came right out of a bank and brought it to a canine unit and had as did a test where money that was basically marinated in cocaine versus our money which was right out of the bank vault.

The dog skipped their money, the police’s money and then they went right to money.

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Joseph Collum: And barked at it and if I had been stopped on the highway that money would have been confiscated. During that time, I don’t know now but during that time, it was almost impossible any amount of cash in your pocket that wasn’t—that hadn’t been contaminated by drugs. They were using—

Dean Becker: Joseph, I was just going to say, it sounds to me like that dog was trained to bark at money. (Laughs) I mean, if you get what I’m—

Joseph Collum: I guess so but there were tests done in that period by forensic people and a lot of money was contaminated by drugs because there were a lot of drugs. There was a lot of cocaine around in those days.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Joseph Collum: And I’m sure there still is but—

Dean Becker: I’ve heard it said that – yeah – the majority of American courtesy on it because it only takes one bill and it gets rubbed against and settled against other currency. Now, coming to the book, The Black Dragon, now, there was a situation where it happens in a lot of endeavors, where there was an award for Trooper of the Year and that got into the mix as well, didn’t it?

Joseph Collum: It was a huge motivation people. People always ask me, do I consider these the state police to be racist or if these troopers engaged in this practice to be racist. My response is always, “I can’t tell you what’s in somebody’s heart, what’s in somebody’s mind, if they are doing this because they are prejudiced against Blacks or minorities or they hate Blacks or minorities.”

I do know that one of the big motivations in the case of New Jersey and the big carrot that was hung out there for troopers was the Trooper of the Year award that was like winning the Heisman trophy for a college football player or an Oscar for a Hollywood actor, to be Trooper of the Year.

If there were 2700 and you were singled out as the Trooper of the Year and you became an instant legend and an express elevator for the career advancement and other troopers stood aside when you walked into a room, if you were Trooper of Year. Invariably year after year after year the Trooper of the Year was the trooper that made the most drug arrests on the Jersey turnpike.

Dean Becker: Right.

Joseph Collum: And that created literally a feeding frenzy among troopers who were patrolling the turnpike and they became—literally became obsessed with making drug arrests and a big part of it – part of it and I have to believe – that a lot of the troopers really believed that they were doing good for society trying to rid society of drugs but a lot of it was personal advancement.

Dean Becker: Okay, you were fading on us for a second but it sounds like you made it back, Joseph. I wanted to ask, you know, I looked through the web and I was trying to find instances where I could make this statement official but it’s my understanding that the methods of the New Jersey State Troopers were used as a template and exposed or that procedure given to other law enforcing agencies around the country.

Joseph Collum: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: I couldn’t—

Joseph Collum: Absolutely.

Dean Becker: Go ahead.

Joseph Collum: The state police really developed techniques that became “racial profiling” in this context. Profiling in essence, the way in was done in New Jersey on the turnpike was because you had a captive audience. Basically, the Jersey Turnpike is a toll road and you get on it and the south end of the state or the north end of the state a lot of people drive all down or all the way through.

Because people were coming or going from New York City, the state believed that a percentage of people were carrying drugs and what they did was this practice the fiction was called “highway drug interdiction” but it really was, was literally a dragnet that was set up on the highway.

The troopers were taught that if they stopped, if an individual troopers stopped 20 to 25 to 30 cars a day, to search them for drugs that added up to, over the course of a year, 6000-7000 cars per trooper.

If you found drugs in only 1% of those cases that’s 60-70 a year you’re making and then you were a candidate for trooper of the year. Multiply that by the 180-200 troopers, were being stopped by – who were patrolling the highway, you have over a million stops and searches a year going on.

As the statics later showed, the arrests statics alone were not 90% yet but you had 76-77% Black and then you had about 13-14% Hispanic. So, that was basically the way that they operated.

It became so successful that the DEA and other agencies around the country asked the state police to go and teach their methods. They traveled – the state troopers in New Jersey traveled to 41 other states and taught those methods and how they did things and that’s really a big reason why it did spread so far and wide.

Dean Becker: I want to come to the thought, I’m doing my second show today with another gentlemen. We’re going to be talking about the mutual absolution that goes on within government, within law enforcement and the justice system.

There’s a couple of stories in the book that I want to talk about. The people who recognize problems such as the issue of racial profiling are often subjected to retribution, if you will.

I wanted to make a note that Superior Court Judge Robert Francis Jr., the first judge to rule against the state of New Jersey and find the state police guilty of racial profiling was removed from his post as a judge. Let’s talk about that payback, that retribution. What goes on?

Joseph Collum: Well, in the case of Judge Francis he presided over a landmark trial, this was several years after I did my stories. Then there lawyers in New Jersey who actually took it to court and they had a six month long hearing, in essence a trial, in front of Judge Francis.

Francs was really a conservative Republican judge but he held the Chancellery Judge in southern New Jersey and the Chancellery Judges handle the most sophisticated civil cases that came through that part of the state. After six months of testimony, Judge Francis ruled that the state police was in fact guilty of de facto racial profiling.

It was the first time that a New York body ever officially said, “Yeah they’re doing it.” People had been talking about it and making that accusation for years but Francis was the first one to say, “Hey, the evidence is overwhelming.”

A couple of years later, he was removed from the Chancellery Court that he had been in for a number of years and he was very, very highly regarded. He was removed from office and a lot of people – Francis never really talked about it but a lot of people really believed that it stemmed from his ruling in the Soto case [The State of New Jersey vs. Pedro Soto, et al], which was a landmark case.

But there were other cases that talked about a group of black troopers. They called them the “Black Radicals.” They were young, black troopers who were assigned to the Newark barracks of the state police on the turnpike, which was the – really the hotspot of the turnpike because that’s where a lot of the traffic comes in and out of New York. It was the heaviest there.

These five young black troopers were so pleased to be state troopers, which New Jersey State Police was a very elite agency. It was very highly regarded all over the country as one of the premier law enforcement agencies in America. These young troopers were idealist police officers and they wanted to do a good job and they were proud to be a part of the agency.

When they started seeing what was going on, they started to push back and say, “No. We’re not doing this. This is illegal. It’s unethical and immoral.” They started pushing back and calling their fellow troopers on the carpet over it and troopers dubbed then the “Black Radicals” and made their life miserable.

They started a campaign against them and ultimately three of the five “Black Radicals” were driving out of the state police and that— those are good examples of retribution that occurred with people that acutely stood up and said, “Hey, there’s something wrong here.”

Dean Becker: Yeah. No, it’s so important to realize that Democracy is kind of being subterfuged, undercut, chopped off at the knees in many ways and we have to pay attention folks.

We have to become full citizens, do our part and recognize what’s going on and work to bring it back to what it ought to be. We’re speaking with Joseph Collum author of The Black Dragon: Racial Profiling Exposed. He’s an award winning investigative journalist.

I want to thank you for joining us, Joseph. We have about a minute left. I want to turn it over to you. Is there a website that you would like to point folks toward? Your closing thoughts, please.

Joseph Collum: My website is josephcollum.com. The book is available at barnesandnoble.com and amazon.com. I’ve been very pleased with the response to it. The reviews have made the point and this is one thing that I was really trying to capture and do justice, by telling the story through the people who were involved, like the Black Radicals and the a lot of the troopers. The other troopers who were involved in this, on both sides of the coin.

I tried to white it almost like as novelistcally as possible and I have been very pleased that people have received it that way and found it to be somewhat riveting to read. A lot of people said they read it in two sittings and it’s a four hundred page book and so I think it reads pretty well.

Dean Becker: It does indeed. We do have to cut it off. Joseph, I thank you for being with us. I hope you’ll come back and join us.

Joseph Collum: My pleasure.

Dean Becker: At a future date.

Joseph Collum: It was my pleasure, thank you.

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(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Change in amount or color of sputum, fever, chills, increased cough, breathing problems, osteoporosis, cataracts and glaucoma, increased blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm, pneumonia and death.

(Gong)

Time’s up!

The answer from AstraZeneca, Symbicort for asthma.

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(Acoustic guitar music)

To save the kids we have to do the same damn thing.

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Terry Nelson: This is Terry Nelson speaking in behalf of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Drug Prohibition. The DEA is so single minded about drug policy that their answer to all issues is to make them illegal.

Recently, Spice, K2, Blaze and Red X Dawn and others have been reported on in the news. These products use certain legal substances that mimic the effects of THC in marijuana.

The DEA response was to exercise its scheduling authority to control five chemicals used to make so called “fake products.” The DEA has declared 5 of approximately 210 chemicals that mimic THC illegal. The DEA said an emergency action was necessary to prevent an imminent threat to public health and safety.

They are now designated a Schedule I substance, the most restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. Over the last couple of years, smokable herbal products legal and as providing a marijana like high have become increasing popular particularly among teens and young adults.

These products consist of plant material that has been coated with researched chemicals that claim to mimic THC, the active ingredients in marijuana and are sold at a variety of retail outlets and head shops and over the internet.

“It is reported that young people are being harmed when they smoke these dangerous fake pot products and wrongly equate the products legal retail availability with being as being safe,” said the DEA administrator, “Todays actions while temporary will reduce the number of young people being seen in emergency rooms after ingesting these synthetic chemicals to get high.”

But however dangerous or not these substances prove to be, they are being marketed because marijuana, a harmless substance is classified as a Schedule I drug and illegal. Millions of people have been arrested and incarcerated for using it and yet there has never been a reported fatality for use of marijuana.

So it can be said that the only reason these fake products have been created is because of the failed drug policy that make harmless substances illegal. The prohibition of a substance has almost always caused people to seek other means to achieve the they want.

LEAP does not condone or encourage substances but does now the harm of arrest is far more serious than the harm from smoking marijuana. The prohibition policy of our government is a failed public policy. Prohibited substances are more available, cheaper and of higher quality than at they were at the beginning of this forty-plus year Drug War.

The DEA’s answer to everything is “make it illegal and we can control it.” Yet, to control anything it must first be legal. We will never arrest or prohibit our way out of our legal problems.

This is Terry Nelson www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.
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(Serene music)

Drug
Truth
Network

Teaching the choir to sing…

Solo.

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Mary Jane Borden: Hello Drug Policy Aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, Editor of Drug War Facts.

The question for this week asks: Can people with addition vote?

Just before the election last fall, the Sentencing Project reported,“… more than 5 million citizens will be ineligible to vote in the midterm elections in November [2010], including nearly 4 million who reside in the 35 states that still prohibit some combination of persons on probation, parole, and/or people who have completed their sentence from voting.”

The Bureau of Justice Statistics “Prisoners in 2009” report found that by year end 2008, 251,400 inmates were housed in state facilities as a result of a drug conviction. For 95,079 federal prisoners, a drug offense was the most serious offense.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ “Probation and Parole in the United States, 2008” calculated a total of 646,493 probationers for which a drug offense was the most serious offense. Similarly, there were 265,634 adults on parole as a result of a drug conviction.

Totaling all of the above numbers computes whopping 1,258,606 adults subject to disenfranchisement or the loss of voting rights for drug convictions in 2008.

The Sentencing Project’s 2011 report Felony Disenfranchisement Laws in the United States states that “48 states and the District of Columbia prohibit inmates from voting while incarcerated for a felony offense. Only two states – Maine and Vermont – permit inmates to vote. … Two states deny the right to vote to all persons with felony convictions, even after they have completed their sentences.”

Those states are Iowa and Kentucky.

Please check the report to find out where your state stands.

These facts and others like them can be found in the Civil Rights and Prisons and Jails
chapters of Drug War Facts at www.drugwarfacts.org.

If you have a question for which you need facts, please email it to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So, remember when you need facts about drugs and drug policy you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.

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Dean Becker: Alright I want to thank Mary Borden of Drug War Facts. I want to thank Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Drug Prohibition. I especially want to thank Mister Joseph Collum, author of The Black Dragon: Racial Profiling Exposed.

I want urge you to tune into this week’s Century of Lies that airs next on many of the Drug Truth Networks stations.

Our guest will be Kevin Zeese, a man that wears maNew York hats and works with many York organizations. We’re going to talk about how America’s rule of law has become America rule of force.

And as always, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.

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To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

Drug Truth Network programs are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

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

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.