06/24/20 Roger Goodman

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Roger Goodman
Houston Harm Reduction Alliance

Roger Goodman Washington state Representative on US racism, Covid 19 and call for actual control of controlled substances + Josh Richards Houston activist calls for harm reduction

Audio file

DEAN BECKER: (00:00)
I am Dean Becker, the Reverend most high, and I want to welcome you to this edition of cultural baggage, lots of information to share. Let's just get started. Folks. I feel proud to once again, be speaking to a gentleman, I greatly respect and admire. I think we've known each other for at least, I don't know, 15, 16 years. Uh, he is a, uh, representative, uh, of the state of Washington. And, uh, he's with us for, I don't know, perhaps the eight or 10th time. I want to welcome Roger Goodman. How are you, sir?

I'm doing great to hear well, all things considered, of course, uh, you know, we got a global pandemic and, uh, economic downturn and, uh, civil unrest all happening at the same time, but, but you're okay. We're doing okay. We're surviving up here, uh, up in Seattle.

DEAN BECKER: (00:52)
Well, and, and Roger again, thank you for taking the time to, uh, you know, jump into this discussion. There is a lot going on a lot that, uh, needs addressed and, uh, needs our respect and attention. Now you are, uh, gonna run for the, uh, what is it, the 45th district, uh, up there in, uh, Washington state again, right?

Yeah. I represent the district, uh, with the suburbs of Seattle. Um, it's a very affluent, um, area people with a strong social conscience. So it allows me to fight for the voiceless. Uh, it's where Microsoft is headquartered. Uh, and, uh, so a lot of actually a lot of foreign born, um, uh, high tech workers here, but yeah, I'm running for my eights terms. I've been around for awhile.

DEAN BECKER: (01:43)
Well, and that, uh, that even surprises me. I knew you'd been at it a while, but your eighth term. And so, uh, that, that is kind of amazing too, to hear Roger. Now I wanna, I wanna, um, well, I don't know which one to start with. I want to talk about first, I guess the, uh, the Capitol Hill autonomous zone has now turned to the Capitol Hill occupy protest. Jazz has turned to chop, uh, and, and, um, I don't know if you watch Fox and I do occasionally just for a reference point, but, uh, they, they talk about, uh, that chop, I guess now as, as if it were a real war zone and Antifa is taking over any truth to that,

None whatsoever. It is a complete misinformation as usual from, uh, the Fox, uh, folks, the, uh, uh, the area I've been there. Uh, I know a lot of those folks, they are, um, they have a stage, uh, with, uh, presentations, uh, they're providing food and medical care for anyone who needs it. Uh, they have, uh, performances, artistic performances, um, uh, no violence whatsoever. Uh, they are doing their best to, uh, to rule themselves to demonstrate that, uh, you know, policing certainly over policing, uh, is unnecessary. Yeah.

DEAN BECKER: (03:08)
And, and this, this brings to mind, I mean, I realized there was a shooting lately. Uh, um, one guy killed, I think, one guy wounded, but that's, uh, it's not a result or that, uh, involved with the, the movement itself. It just so happened. It was on the edge of that, uh, area, if I heard. Right.

Yeah, that's right. It's not a there's no, there's not. Uh, these are not, uh, terrorists, uh, or, uh, you know, gun wielding folks. These are, uh, frankly they're, uh, a lot of them are enjoying the, uh, cannabis that we have up here in, uh, uh, in Washington state. And we have for eight years now, we've had a legal, legally regulated market, which has worked very well. So, uh, it's actually fairly mellow.

DEAN BECKER: (03:53)
Yeah. And that folks need to understand that, uh, Seattle and, uh, uh, you're, I don't know if it's a sister city, but Portland, Oregon are known for, um, people standing for rights, people, um, protesting people involved, I guess, is maybe the best way to put it. And even in your city of Seattle before, I don't know how many years you've had the Seattle, uh, uh, hemp Fest, where were folks gathered and, uh, protested and, and claim their right to smoke that cannabis you're talking about. Right?

Yeah. We call it a protestable, it's 150,000 people, every summer course this summer, we're going to have to take a break, uh, on this, but, um, you know, hemp Fest is become, uh, famous around the world. And I think actually has been part of the, uh, propelling, the movement to end, uh, cannabis prohibition. Uh, so yeah, here in Seattle, we are well known for protests. We had the world trade organization, WTO protests 20 years ago, uh, and, you know, protesting against a rapacious global capitalism and, um, and even a hundred years ago, uh, uh, famous protests against, uh, corporate power and so forth. So, uh, quite a legacy here.

DEAN BECKER: (05:11)
Well, a couple of weeks back, we had, uh, norm stamper who was, uh, the police chief back when that, uh, uh, that, uh, protest went on against, uh, banking and the corporate, I don't know what all was involved, but, uh, um, you know, he kind of had a Mia culpa that he could have done things differently that, that he should have done things differently. And I think we're, um, encountering are exposing around the country where, um, my God, we have these, these protests against police brutality. And during these protests, we reap more police brutality. Your thought in that regard, Roger.

Yeah. The irony that in, uh, in an attempt to, uh, control protests against police brutality, police use brutality, it's just, it's certainly not good for their cause. I don't want to paint such a broad, uh, with such a broad brush, however, because, uh, you know, our, uh, and I don't call them law enforcement officers because that sounds very aggressive, which of course it has been particularly because of the war on drugs, put law enforcement in the position of chasing down the bad guys and, you know, kind of the warrior mentality, but, uh, our statute, our law and the state calls them peace officers, they're peace officers. And I think we should frame it that way. Uh, the most of those who go into the profession are well, meaning and decent, particularly the new recruits they're millennials, they have a different sense of justice. They don't look upon themselves as warriors.

Uh, they're being trained to be guardians guardians of the community, guardians of democracy. Uh, and so we have a not insignificant number of, uh, police who misbehave, uh, and somehow they are allowed to continue their misconduct either in the same department or moving from one to another. Uh, but I, I do think we need to make clear distinctions between the, those bad actors, uh, and there are too many of them, uh, and the peace officers in general, who do play an important role to, um, you know, to preserve order and, and to be of assistance. Um, and so it's, it's a complex, complex picture.

DEAN BECKER: (07:27)
Well, it is that, and, and I agree that, uh, a huge portion of, of police officers are, you know, mindful of, uh, human rights and citizens have rights, et cetera. Um, but we, we do come to that a little conundrum. I'm going to say where those who witnessed that behavior by other cops who refuse to step forward. Um, and, and I, you know, I, again, I don't want to paint with that broad brush, like you you've mentioned, but I do want to say this, like, even with, uh, George Floyd, when the three were sitting on him, one on his neck, and there was one guy kind of standing watch while they did it, um,

That's, that's accessory to murder. I mean, that's accessory to murder and so they should be charged as such and then, and I hope they, I hope that's what happens. Uh, uh, so yeah, you're, you're right. We need to hold accountable, not only those, uh, police who misbehave, uh, and harm others, but also those who don't report it. And I'm now I'm the chair of the public safety committee in the house of representatives. So I have jurisdiction my committee over our criminal justice system in this state. And needless to say, I've been pretty busy in the last three, four weeks, uh, responding to the current national uprising. And we are going to be preparing legislation, uh, in this state to those accountable officers accountable for not reporting others. There's all sorts of things. I mean, I think about police reports, you fill out a police report when, when you sign that police report as an officer, you sign it under penalty of perjury, and we've seen way too many police reports that either have misinformation missing information or just outright laws, and that is misconduct and a violation of the law, uh, and, uh, uh, other officers should be holding their, their officers accountable if they see just an example like that.

Uh, and then of course, you know, if they're witnessing an officer doing harm to others, uh, unreasonably, they should report that as well. And so we're, that's one of the many reforms, uh, that we're contemplating here.

DEAN BECKER: (09:40)
Well, and let's do talk about some of those, uh, uh, changes that you might be willing to make or to get past, I think might be the better way to phrase it. And, and I guess what I am aware of is that you were mentioning Seattle, been smoking marijuana illegally now for eight years. Uh, the sky has not fallen at all. Uh, secondarily, I understand that you and or your associates are, uh, um, bringing forward. And, uh, and there are already some parameters of this involved, but, uh, the idea that we'll, nobody needs to go to jail for minor amounts of drugs anymore, that, uh, that we have, uh, too many people in jail, too many, uh, people on probation, parole, et cetera, too many people that are tied up in the criminal justice system. Let's talk about what has happened in regards to that, uh, the minor amounts of drugs idea and what you hope will happen.

Sure. So, um, yes, we just to begin with, we did and, uh, marijuana prohibition, um, in 2012, along with Colorado, I wouldn't talks about Colorado, but Washington state. We did it at the same time. Uh, we also legalized the same sex marriage at the very same time. Um, so, uh, the results have been very positive. Uh, we actually see a reduced use of, uh, cannabis, uh, by eighth and 10th graders, uh, no increase by 12th graders. So youth use has actually gone down, uh, instead of, it's not a fair Britain fruit anymore, you know, if grandma's using it for cancer or whatever, it's just, I guess it's not as cool. Um, and, uh, uh, we've seen a reduction in deaths on the roadways because people have been switching away from alcohol and using cannabis instead and not driving as much. Uh, she call it couch lock.

DEAN BECKER: (11:26)
Yeah. Yeah.

Uh, but, uh, we've seen, uh, you know, our roads become safer because of less alcohol related deaths. Um, we've seen, um, uh, people much more freely using cannabis instead of toxic pharmaceuticals for the health benefits. Uh, and, uh, we've brought in more than half a billion dollars a year in revenue from the taxes on cannabis, uh, to pay for healthcare for the poor healthcare for those who otherwise wouldn't afford it. So I think that's pretty good news. And we've also seen, um, uh, law enforcement and, uh, jails be able to divert resources away from needless, uh, law enforcement related to cannabis to, uh, you know, to preserve public order in real cases, you know, where people are doing harm to others. So I do have to say this, not only as the sky fall, not falling, uh, but we are thriving in this atmosphere of having ended cannabis prohibition.

We needed to overregulate for while we have a regulatory system, you have to get a license, you have to comply with regulations. Uh, and we, we needed to show that the sky hasn't fallen, uh, cause, uh, you know, the soccer moms are kind of concerned about their kids and so forth. Uh, well now the soccer moms are the ones going into the shops. Uh, so it really has been normalized here, uh, and has helped the economy has not hurt children and has improved public safety. Just wanted to talk about that briefly because our cannabis, uh, experiment, uh, has, has been successful. Um, so the war on drugs in general is still kind of, you know, I hope it's winding down, but it's still, uh, doing so much damage, uh, in our country and worldwide. Uh, and it has turned the police against the community. Uh, the police are part of the community.

They they're serving the communities in which they live and it's put them in a very difficult position. Um, and, uh, so we've, you know, we have to reform this. So some of the things we're looking at in terms of policing, uh, police tactics, uh, police, accountability, police, community relations, um, some other easy, we need the band choke holes or sleeper holes. There's no reason for that. Uh, I think we need to ban tear gas, tear gas is prohibited by the conventions of war. How could it be used on the streets, uh, against peaceful protest? Um, we need to take a look at the no knock warrant, the no knock warrant actually, uh, as you may know, uh, resulted in the deaths of Brianna Taylor Louisville, uh, was, uh, upheld by the Supreme court in the 1960s. Uh, so it is, uh, it is considered a, not a, uh, a violation of the fourth amendment, unreasonable search and seizure, but, uh, geez, they're breaking down the door and shooting people.

So, um, we have to put serious, uh, restrictions on the no knock warrants. Um, I'm not sure why law enforcement needs to be wearing body armor and driving military vehicles around, uh, the militarization of the police is a huge issue. So we're going to be looking at that. Um, so there's all sorts of tactics and training issues, uh, that we really want to address training is pretty good here actually in Washington state, uh, we are training in bias, implicit bias. You know, people are looking at their own biases, we're training in, uh, what we call less than lethal use of force, you know, like tasers and other forms, if you do need to deescalate a situation. Um, but I think we to be, uh, implementing what's called procedural justice training, which is sort of the case by case way, you treat people, uh, treat them in an equitable way.

And so, uh, we do have a lot of, uh, progress yet to be made in, uh, training. The two other areas really are well there's three actually there's investigations, accountability and funding, investigations of incidents where people are injured or are killed by the police need to be entirely independent of the police. And so we're contemplating creating a statewide agency. That's not a police agency like an inspector general or a special prosecutor or something like that. That's going to be a big effort, it'll cost money. Uh, but we do want investigations to be entirely independent of the police. Accountability is the most important. We have a union contracts that have arbitration clauses where an officer will be fired by the chief, but then challenge the firing. It'll go to an arbitrator. And the arbitrator says, no, you got to rehire him, uh, or no he's while the other situation is, uh, an officer engages in misconduct and the chief says, well, look, we'll just let you resign.

And we won't do the investigation. And then the officer gets to move on to another department. Uh, we need to prevent that we need to have these investigations completed so that there's a record showing the misconduct, which then would, uh, have the officer be de-certified and would not be able to be a police officer again. So these accountability measures where we're, we really want to prevent, uh, police from moving from one department to another or being hired. And then all of a sudden re fired all of a sudden rehired. Um, that's really, really important. And then as we talked about before requiring officers to report misconduct of their fellow officers, so that everyone is accountable. And then finally, sorry to go on for this long speech here, but is, uh, is, uh, funding we've heard about defunding the police, uh, somewhat of a provocative phrase.

Um, but, uh, I, I like to think of it as, um, uh, re-imagining public safety. We want to think about, uh, investing in, uh, in education, in housing, uh, and behavioral healthcare in particular, uh, mental health, substance use treatment, uh, investing in our youth, investing in community organizations, uh, instead of investing in some of the police oriented equipment and activities that seem to be either wasteful or hurtful, uh, this is not defunding the police. That's an extreme view. Uh, it really is taking a look at where our resources should go. I've heard from sheriffs and police chiefs for years saying, you want us to solve juvenile delinquency. You want us to solve racism. You want us to solve homelessness. You want us to solve mental illness and they just send them all to us. And so our response may be now, well, okay, we're not going to ask you to solve it anymore. We're going to make investments in those. Uh, and then you do your work to truly protect public safety when someone is threatening public safety, but otherwise we're going to redistribute resources. So there's a, it's a revolutionary time here. This isn't just reform. We've been reforming for years, and it doesn't seem like we've made a difference. Uh, we need something much more radical and fundamental in our changes.

DEAN BECKER: (18:17)
Thank you for all that. And, uh, no, I, I appreciate the, the full discussion you, you brought forward there, here in Houston, we used to throw people in jail for having an empty bag laying in the floorboard that had a tiny crumb of some white powder, maybe in the corner. And, uh, they have stopped doing that best. I understand it, uh, you know, at least for the tiny portions I'm speaking of, but, uh, you guys have, um, changed your perspective or are changing your perspective in that regard for minor amounts of drugs in the state of Washington, are you not?

Well, first of all years ago stopped, uh, prosecuting what we call the residue cases. A crack pipe was just a tiny amount where you just have to scrape it off, and that would be a felony for possession of any amount, just to even residue is still a felony in this case, in this state. So we do have to reform, uh, the, the drug laws further. And the idea now is called treatment first. Uh, if you, uh, that there's two categories of people who use substances, those who need to be left alone, who aren't in trouble and are causing trouble or anybody else, uh, that's the libertarian point of view, which I subscribed to, uh, and those who need help, those who need the healthcare, behavioral healthcare, who really are dependent on substances and is harming them and maybe even their families and we don't have access to treatment.

And so the idea is as they have done in Portugal to, uh, if there's an intervention, even by law enforcement, there is not an arrest. Uh, the idea of currently being floated around is that the officer would, uh, uh, provide a citation, kinda like a civil penalty, but not a monetary penalty. It would be a referral to treatment or referral, but basically an assessment and a referral to treatment. Uh, and if the person, uh, failed to do that, then there might be a monetary penalty. So there is kind of a punitive element to it. And yet we are, that would be a complete decriminalization of the possession of amounts for personal use. Uh, and so we are looking at that and it might very well be a legislative proposal, or it could be an initiative. You know, we have a citizen ballot initiatives here, uh, on the ballot in the next couple of years.

So yeah, we're looking at complete decriminalization and a major in treatment for those who need it. And then leaving people alone who really should be left alone and should have been left alone for generations. Now, just to use whatever they want to use, eat as much. They want to eat as much chocolate cake as they want, as they want. They want to do whatever they want. You know, if you're not harming anybody else, the law is not going to protect you from yourself. The laws intended to protect people from one another. If they're going to harm one another, and this is a, you know, this is a basic concept here.

DEAN BECKER: (21:14)
Oh, just today. I sent in an op ed to, uh, the, uh, uh, Chicago Tribune. It presents the whole truth that the drug war started with racism. It has escalated through racism and it continues to, uh, wield its ugliness, um, mostly through racist policies, mostly a racist implementation, racist perspectives. Am I right, sir?

Absolutely. Racism is what is the glue that holds the war on drugs together? Uh, the war on drugs is also motivated by greed and by fear. Uh, but, uh, racism is what holds it all together. And what got it started back in the late 18 hundreds, the opium laws were punishing the Chinese, the, uh, cocaine laws were about the so-called cocaine craze, Negroes who were impervious to two bullets. Uh, the, uh, course marijuana was the war against Mexicans, uh, even, um, methamphetamine, uh, more recently as a war against, uh, poor rural white folks. So it's not just race, it's actually class as well. Uh, but racism is at the root, always has been at the root of the war on drugs. And as we look about reforming policing and ways to, uh, to reduce racism in our society, I think we need to accelerate ending the war on drugs.

DEAN BECKER: (22:41)
Well, and it was, um, I don't know, the, the, the fear that was just proffered, the, the, the idea that as you mentioned, the drug craze Negro, that they, I think it caused police to move from 38 to 45 calibers to, to get bigger guns, et cetera. And it has given reason for the, uh, the no knock warrants you spoke of it. It has given justification to that idea, you know, to the stop and frisk. They had a New York, uh, uh, the list is pretty well, uh, in one, not endless, but it's extensive. And it, it, it has, uh, given us a lot of unneeded misery and death in our country.

Yeah, well, you know, the deaths and misery has certainly resulted from the war on drugs, but today, if you take a look at the maps of where the coronavirus pandemic is spreading, if you take a look at where HIV is still, uh, prevalent, uh, if you take a look at where poverty is endemic, and if you take a look at where people of color live, it's all the same map. And so racism is at the root of all of this, not just the war on drugs, uh, but the deprivation of economic opportunity in healthcare. Uh, and also there's ravages of this virus across the country, uh, is affecting those communities disproportionately as well. So, uh, we do have to look at this critically, and I think this, again, national uprising that will not be put down our dear president is making it better for us by, by being so reactionary and, and, and helping to bind us all together. Uh, and so I really think this is a moment in history where we can make a difference

DEAN BECKER: (24:32)
Starting soon, I'm going to start using zoom. I'm going to start doing video interviews, you know, start posting them in various locales. Uh, it's going to be called Becker's buds, conscientious objectors to drug war. And, um, you know, I'm hoping that you will join me or, you know, maybe later this year and, uh, do, do one of those video interviews with me, I'd be happy.

That'd be happy to, to zoom with you so people can see us.

DEAN BECKER: (25:02)
My goal is that vice learns what I'm doing or CNN, or somebody says, this guy knows what he's doing. Let's put him on the air.

You do, I do have to say to your listeners is you, Dean Becker is, is a legendary figure in the struggle to end the war on drugs. And so, Dean, I, I really applaud you for your leadership and your persistence and your, uh, your articulate, uh, depiction of this national tragedy, this, this policy that really should have gone away a long time ago. Uh, so anyway, I want to thank you for all the work you've done.

DEAN BECKER: (25:37)
It's time to play name that drug by its side effects, swelling of hands and feet, rash, hives, blisters, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and neck trouble breathing changes in eyesight, muscle pain, fever, skin, sores, business, sleepiness, weight gain, high times up the answer.

DEAN BECKER: (25:52)
Pfizer Lyrica for fibromyalgia.

DEAN BECKER : Like many of us trained by our mentor, mr. Ray Hill then gone over a year. Now, Mr. Josh Richards has a purpose, has a plan.

I started getting in touch with people who I thought might be interested in doing something to help the, uh, the using population of Houston and as a vendor and recovering addict myself, I happened to have a strong, uh, inclination to want to help people who are in those communities. Uh, not only for selfish reasons, but, uh, I just, I care a lot about them. And so what we are doing is we're getting in touch with folks at the Baker Institute, people at local clinics, uh, people through these heroes program. And, uh, there are a few others who were reaching out such time, but there are some great groups out there who are willing to give us their time and resources. And what we are trying to do is we have a couple of things, a couple of goals we want to reach for me, what I would love to see Houston too is first and foremost, uh, change, uh, how we approach drug users.

Uh, and Houston, I would like to see the way that we jail them, uh, not be radically reformed. I would like to see a, instead of an emphasis on punishment, I'd like to see an emphasis on rehabilitation and helping people, uh, resources being put to good use instead of just, uh, you know, locking people up for, uh, such long periods that they get out just angry and more willing to use, uh, uh, as well as wanting to help people get access to, uh, supplies like drug tests. And I don't mean like urine samples. I mean like fentanyl tests, fentanyl finds its way, not into just hair, not only heroin, but, uh, Xanax, cocaine, meth, uh, any illegal drug out there, uh, can be tainted with this stuff because it will make it that much more addictive and desirable, uh, to the consumers. I want to see Narcan made more available than it already is. There's a lot of great folks out there who get this out there, but I don't think there's enough of it. Uh, and I would like to see ultimately a place where people can exchange their syringes. And I would love to see a safe space where people are allowed to inject their drugs without fear of being arrested. They have access to supplies and help if they need, uh, assistance.

DEAN BECKER: (28:29)
Well, once again, that was Joshua Richards community organizer. Besides the folks from the hope clinic, the Baker Institute, there's growing numbers of individual doctors, nurses, ministers, and citizens joining in this effort. Why don't you join us please? Houston harm reduction, alliance.com, please visit our website, drug truth.net. And again, I remind you because of prohibition. You do not know what's in that bag. Please be careful.