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  How are We Going to End Violence in Our Cities?
Posted by CN Staff on February 08, 2007 at 11:29:35 PT
By Asha Bandele and Tony Newman 
Source: Huffington Post 

justice USA -- Everyday we open the newspaper or turn on the TV we learn about the ever- increasing levels of death and destruction in Iraq. For those of us safely ensconced here, it's impossible to comprehend the violence and mayhem that Iraqi citizens are being forced to live with and survive. And while we may not be able to understand the dangerous terrain that Iraqis are forced to navigate - in part because it's so extreme, but also in part because it's so far from our shores - we should also be aware that many of our fellow citizens right here in the US face daily violence that is also unacceptable.

In Newark and New Orleans, the level of violence is rising as a result of the war here at home. Record numbers of people are being killed on the streets of these cities.

One reason often attributed to the violence is drug killings. The most common response to violence, especially when it is related to drug dealing is to call for more police and often more jail cells. And despite how inviting, how sexy, a "tough on crime" approach sounds, it has yet to emerge as a policy that reduces violence and the suffering of everyday, hardworking people. Our skyrocketing prison population alone should signal that the way we are dealing with crime is a failure. If it were successful, there would be fewer, not more, incarcerated people; as we write this, the US now leads the entire world in the numbers of citizens it locks up. Why is this the case?

Our country has fought this war on drugs at home for 30 years, and for 30 years, drug prohibition and increased law enforcement have not made our streets safer nor rid our society of drugs. Rather, much like the days of Al Capone and alcohol prohibition, our policies on drugs have led to turf wars and murder.

So what should elected officials, community leaders and residents do to reduce the violence from the drug trade and reclaim their streets and families? We don't have all the answers, but there are a number of factors to consider so that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past and instead create a better way to heal our families and communities.

We have to create jobs if we don't want people to sell drugs.

A survey last year found that 50% of Black males in New York were unemployed. We have to create jobs that pay people a living wage so they can live with dignity. New York and most cities are incredibly expensive. It is easy to look down on people who sell drugs, but if we are serious about getting people to stop, we have to help create jobs so people can make a decent living doing something else.

There are many people who self medicate with legal and illegal drugs.

We are living in a time of war, global warming, increasing economic insecurity, rising unemployment, mass incarceration etc. Is it really a surprise that many people struggle with holding it all together and may end up self-medicating with drugs? People in New Orleans are dealing with trauma as a result of Katrina, on top of decades of neglect. We need to offer people compassion and treatment for those struggling with an addiction.

Treatment and Rehabilitation instead of Incarceration for People who use Drugs

We can spend a few thousand dollars a year offering someone treatment or we can pay 30,000 dollars a year to incarcerate them. We believe that the 30,000 dollars a year spent locking up someone in a cage could be better spent on treatment, education and job training. Currently we have a system that gives treatment to celebrities and the well-to-do and a jail cell for the poor.

The Drug War and Prohibition Create the Violence, not the Plants

Billions of dollars of government propaganda has told us that drugs are responsible for violence in our communities. In reality, it is prohibition and the drug war, not the substances that cause the violence we despise. When alcohol was illegal we had Al Capone and shoot-outs similar to the ones happening in our cities today. Now that alcohol is regulated, we don't have people shooting each other over Budweiser. It is not the marijuana or coca plant that causes people to shoot each other, but the fact that prohibition has made the plant worth more than gold that causes people to shoot each other over the right to sell it.

We have to learn how to live with Drugs, because they aren't going Anywhere.

Drugs have been around for a thousand years and they will be around for a thousand more. Despite a 40 billion dollar a year war on drugs, drugs are as plentiful as ever and can be found in every community in America. Elected officials have been afraid to look "soft on crime" so continue to offer up ineffective and inhumane drug war strategies that don't rid us off drugs, but do fill our prisons and morgues.

Time for an Exit Strategy from this Unwinnable War.

We need to pull together community leaders, treatment providers, law enforcement and elected officials to come together and find solutions to our drug problem that will allow us to reclaim our families and our streets. We need to put the resources that are going towards bombs in Iraq and prisons in the US to go towards treatment, education, and jobs here at home. It is time to open up the debate, including the forbidden topic of regulation as an alternative to prohibition, so we can find an exit strategy from this unwinnable war.

URL: http://tinyurl.com/ypg6yn

Asha Bandele is the author of The Prisoner's Wife. Tony Newman is the communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Complete Title: From New Orleans to Newark: How are We Going to End the Violence in Our Cities?

Source: Huffington Post (US Web)
Author: Asha Bandele and Tony Newman
Published: February 7, 2007
Copyright: 2007 HuffingtonPost.com, LLC
Contact: info@huffingtonpost.com
Website: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

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Comment #9 posted by FoM on February 09, 2007 at 11:14:18 PT
museman
This is what I have thinking about Anna Nicole Smith's death. She was a walking pharmacy and it shows me that some people can't use hard drugs safely. They become slaves to a drug or drugs and that isn't true freedom. She has been out there forever and why didn't someone help her by forcing, if necessary, her to go and stay in a hospital? We really are our brother's keepers. Unlimited drugs can have a tragic end.

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Comment #8 posted by FoM on February 09, 2007 at 11:07:39 PT
museman
I'm glad you liked it too. In life I have learned that what I believe to be true might not be true. Since we are fallible I believe we should look at every aspect of our thoughts about something important and give that information time to settle in our minds then we should dwell on it for awhile and then see how we feel. How can people grow and change if they bury their heads in the sand? I have always questioned myself and what goes on around me when it comes to issues of major importance.

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Comment #7 posted by museman on February 09, 2007 at 10:58:43 PT
FoM
Farenheit 911 was one of the most enlightening documentaries I have ever seen. The image if George Bush jr standing there at the podium with that obnoxious smirk on his face, saying, "Some people call you the "Haves," and the "Have mores." I just call you my 'base'" is burned into my minds eye. I will never forget it.

That blatant revelation should have been enough in and of itself to wake people up, but I guess those who didn't/don't want to know the truth, didn't/don't look either.

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Comment #6 posted by FoM on February 09, 2007 at 10:46:06 PT
museman
I understand what you are saying. I hate to mention Michael Moore because some people didn't like F/9-11 but I bought it and have watched it a number of times. One thing he said is wars aren't meant to be won but to be continued. That is the only way to keep the hierarchical system in place. To keep people just on the verge of starvation is what is wanted by the powers that be. Just when you think you can make ends meet someone pulls the ends apart. My dad was an accountant and he said that to me.

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Comment #5 posted by museman on February 09, 2007 at 10:43:02 PT
FoM #3
They did the same thing with all the 'movements' of the '60's. Infiltrated, got the leaders strung out on heroin, and cocaine.

Their biggest blanket of coverage was 'marijuana' prohibition, because so many of the 'revolution' smoke/d it. Cannabis prohibition is the 'milk cow' of law enforcement. They recieve so much revenue from the process of busting, trying, fining, encarcerating (because Bob Barker Enterprises -for one- lobbied for privatization of the 'prison industry') they'll let the junkies, thieves, rapists, and murderers out (some of them they employ), while making sure that the herb smokers get everything they can throw at them.

The cops just love it. Easy time.

I had a cop in Santa Cruz once say this to me; (while writing me a ticket)

"You know, I used to hate you guys (referring to 'hippy' types) but one day it hit me, I saw the light!"

I thought, 'Cool, he saw the light.'

"That's right," he continued, "I realized that if it weren't for you guys, doin' what you do, I'd be out of a job. So as far as I am concerned personally, keep it up, it's fine by me."

true story.



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Comment #4 posted by museman on February 09, 2007 at 10:26:50 PT
FoM
The control factor is the 'working end' of the, GREED, POWER, and CLASS philosophy. Control is exercise of power for reasons of maintaining the status quo of wealth and social class.

It is a distinctly Roman philosphy. Plato's 'Republic' is all about the 'ruling class' maintaining control and social position while giving the appearance of magnaminity through 'generous' 'bread and games.'

That is what a republic is. They have done a wonderful job of fooling the people into thinking that 'democracy' is actually part of the process.

They teach and enforce their erroneous value system, and any deviation from their plan of world domination is put down one way or another. Why else are ther martyrs?

The root meaning of 'religion' means 'to constrain, or hold back.

It's quite a web of lies and deceit going back all the way to the beginning of civilization.

When we begin to address these issues; the root causes, then I am girded for battle, and armed with the truth. Otherwise, I am doomed to watch the same old crap until the day I die -just like every other pessimist or optimist.

Believing in positivity is just not enough. It is a start, but without some kind of active follow through it is pretty much useless and ineffective.

I guess that's why I respect this forum. There is evidence of action, and evolving thought.

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Comment #3 posted by FoM on February 08, 2007 at 13:45:45 PT
museman
I want to add something. I was so far removed from drug issues in the 70s when Crack became a big thing and I thought this. They couldn't stop the blacks from gaining their freedom because of President Johnson but Crack would put many blacks behind bars so that kept the control where they wanted it. I hope this makes sense.

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Comment #2 posted by FoM on February 08, 2007 at 13:32:43 PT
museman
I think it is a way to control people.

[ Post Comment ]
 
Comment #1 posted by museman on February 08, 2007 at 13:09:14 PT
Another question
Who is it that makes all these wars? I'm not talking about governments, but the power behind them. Why do they make all these wars?

If the answer is because of 'justice,' 'freedom,' 'democracy,' 'free enterprise,' or any of the other obfuscated twists of common understanding pounded out daily in the media and the houses of state, then that is not the right answer, or answers.

The right answer is, and always has been; because of GREED, POWER, and CLASS. Period. Anyone want to really 'win' or provide substantial solution, they are going to have to start there.

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