Blacks, Latinos Join to Stop Drug Law Injustice

Mexican poet Javier Sicilia

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.

The NAACP has joined Mexican poet Javier Sicilia and a broad international coalition of grassroots and civil rights organizations on a “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity” across the United States to call for a repeal of the war on drugs and the associated policies. “The NAACP has joined this coalition to call for an end to ineffective criminal justice policies like the war on drugs and racial profiling that fail to address the real problems of our communities,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “We must abandon the unsuccessful ‘tough on crime’ approach to justice and adopt a ‘smart on crime’ strategy that places individuals, their welfare and dignity, and community safety at the center of drug policy,” he said. The goal of the Caravan for Peace, which started on Sunday, Aug. 12, is to engage in citizen diplomacy to stop the war on drugs and replace it with meaningful policies that do not disproportionately impact communities of color. Created by Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, family members of Mexican victims of the drug war will unite with victims and supporters from the United States for a month-long voyage across the continental United States. “This movement brings together activists from both of our countries to shed light on the policies that have failed our families, neighbors, and nations,” said Sicilia. “United, we will raise our voices to call for an end to a war on drugs that allows entire communities to become casualties and we will demand a shift in attention to poverty and the lack of economic opportunity that helps breed the criminality.” Beginning in San Diego, the caravan will travel over 6,000 miles through more than 20 cities and communities in ten states—including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York—before arriving in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10. The Caravan will officially conclude Sept, 12 at  an International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico. “The War on Drugs has done nothing to curb the drug-related violence in communities of color across this nation,” said Alice Huffman, NAACP California State Conference President and Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee on the NAACP National Board of Directors. The NAACP says the drug policy should be replaced by preventative and rehabilitative initiatives, including sentencing reform to eliminate disparities in drug laws, repealing mandatory minimum sentences, promoting diversion programs, more justly applied prison sentences, improving parole and probation revocation rates, supporting reentry initiatives, supporting youth violence reduction programs, and increasing earned “good time” for prisoners. More than 100 U.S. organizations are part of the Caravan effort. For information go to www.caravanforpeace.org
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