Man Rides Horse Across Country for Drug Reform

Man Rides Horse Across Country for Drug Reform
Posted by CN Staff on September 27, 2003 at 13:05:55 PT
By Capi Lynn, Statesman Journal
Source: Statesman Journal 
Scio — Howard Wooldridge leaves quite an impression on people. It could be because of his one-eyed horse, his homemade T-shirt or his startling message. More than likely, it is a combination of all three.Wooldridge, a 52-year-old retired police detective, is nearing the end of his expedition. He set out six months ago to ride his horse across the country and raise awareness about drug reform. The 3,100-mile trail wends this week through the Mid-Willamette Valley.
While Wooldridge took time out to champion his cause, his horse, Misty, enjoyed a well-deserved day off on a farm southeast of Salem between Jefferson and Scio.Keith and Wendy Slonecker opened their home and barn to the weary travelers, despite having never met Wooldridge before. A friend of the Sloneckers in Bend arranged the accommodations.“The kindness of strangers has been unimaginable,” Wooldridge said. “The horse-cowboy concept just opens up every door in America.”One man in St. Louis, Mo., one of many stops along the trail, went out of his way to rent a trailer to transport horse and cowboy to a resting place.The Sloneckers, who have two horses, were well-equipped to assist the pair. They even found someone to repair one of Misty’s shoes.The 9-year-old brown and white pinto seemed right at home in the Sloneckers’ barn.She looked healthy and fit, despite the miles that she has traveled. She lost her right eye about four years ago after being kicked by a mare.Misty has been a warrior on the adventure, which began in Savannah, Ga., and will end in Newport on the Oregon Coast.She has grown accustomed to the sounds of semi-trucks, motorcycles and police sirens and comfortable with walking highway shoulders alongside speeding traffic. Goats, however, are another matter.Misty was spooked by a couple of goats in Georgia, with Wooldridge in saddle, and they had a close call with a truck.The two have kept a steady pace the past six months.Their usual schedule has been to travel five days, then take a day off. They average 23 miles per day, with Wooldridge riding two miles and then leading her one mile, preserving Misty’s stamina.That explains why Wooldridge wears Nike hiking boots. He is on his second pair, and the soles are worn thin.“I walk eight, nine miles a day,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to do that in my cowboy boots, no ma’am.”Wooldridge travels light, with only 16 pounds of pack. He carries the essentials: tent, sleeping bag, cell phone and 9-millimeter handgun. He and Misty rely on food and shelter from the strangers they befriend.The gun is for their protection from “dogs, cougars and people — in that order.” They have been attacked by dogs three times.Wooldridge is tall, rangy and mustachioed. He looks like a cowboy, wearing a hat, a red bandanna and Wranglers. But his T-shirt clashes with the western lawman look.The shirt, in large block letters, reads: “Cops Say Legalize Pot. Ask Me Why.”His message turns heads more than anything.“Prohibition or current drug policy condemns our children to grow up in a world infested with blood-sucking drug dealers and free samples,” he said.Wooldridge is a founding member of LEAP, or Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, a group of current and retired police officers who support legalizing drugs.He was a detective for 15 years in a small town in Michigan before taking early retirement. He despised the fact that he spent more time looking for marijuana under the front seat of a car than looking for drunk drivers.“Law enforcement is a mosquito on the rear end of an elephant,” Wooldridge said. “We make zero difference whether you or your community are going to have drugs or not.”He goes so far as to say that marijuana should be right there on store shelves with Jack Daniels, Budweiser and cigarettes.Not everyone agrees with the the lone horseman’s message, including many of his hosts.Craig Flierl, a law enforcement officer, invited Wooldridge to stay with his family in Sweet Home earlier this week.“They had quite the conversation,” said Edene Flierl, Craig’s wife.Her husband had a lot of questions for Wooldridge, some that couldn’t be answered.“He is passionate about his crusade, I’ll tell you that,” Craig Flierl said.“In theory, I can’t say it sounds like a bad thing. I just don’t see it in reality.”Legalizing drugs, Wooldridge says, would lower drug prices and thus reduce crime.Flierl doesn’t see the correlation.“The community that uses narcotics will still break into homes and pawn things off to get money to buy drugs,” Flierl said.In spite of a controversial crusade, being a former police detective gives Wooldridge instant credibility.He points out that Oregon is more progressive than other states when it comes to drug reform. That state’s Medical Marijuana Act was passed by voters in 1998, allowing the drug to be used for patients suffering from specific medical conditions.“It’s a smaller leap for Oregon than it would be for Texas,” he said, adding that a person in Texas can go to jail for a simple possession charge, even if it is a first offense.“In Oregon, it’s no different than running a stop sign.”The subject of legalizing drugs knocked Wendy Slonecker, who has two teen-age children at home, right out of her comfort zone this week. Although she didn’t agree with everything Wooldridge said, she had to admit that some of his arguments made sense.She has a feeling that the man she just met is going to make a difference and wouldn’t be surprised to see him someday lobbying in Washington, D.C., upon the saddle of Misty.“We aren’t winning the war against drugs,” Slonecker said. “Something has to happen.”Wooldridge said he fully expects to see drug reform in his lifetime.For now, he will continue his campaign.So far, his audience has been limited to those who have been curious enough to inquire about the T-shirt and those who have generously provided food and shelter. He has generated publicity along the way, always taking time on his days off to meet with newspaper, radio and television reporters.At sunrise this morning, he will saddle up Misty and head for the shoulders of Highway 20. They will travel through Albany, Corvallis and Philomath on their way to Newport. One of Wooldridge’s brothers will meet them there with a truck and trailer to take them back home to Fort Worth, Texas.With only 80 more miles to deliver his message, and the final pages of his journal to complete, the end is bittersweet.“This is once-in-a-lifetime stuff,” he said. “As much as I really want to finish, I’m going to miss meeting all the Wendys and Keiths out there.” Note: A retired detective and his horse near the end of their trek across the country to encourage changes to drug laws.Source: Statesman Journal (OR)Author: Capi Lynn, Statesman JournalPublished: September 27, 2003Copyright: 2003 Statesman JournalContact: letters statesmanjournal.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:LEAP Cop Says Legalize Drugs of Drugs Urged Against The Drug War Plugs Pot Legalization in Journey on Horse 
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Comment #9 posted by ekim on September 29, 2003 at 09:04:13 PT
thanks to everybody 
please keep commenting i learn so much from all of you and good day Dank.Thanks FoM for the 60 minutes update. what a eye opener to the Texas drug war, how one nark could bring charges on over 40 humans with no wire, not one finger print, no drugs, if this is the type of envirorment that Tandy has come from all should question the deprvity of the system.
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Comment #8 posted by E_Johnson on September 28, 2003 at 13:40:14 PT
This is hilarious
"Karen Tandy won't name the Texas prosecutor who told her back in the 1970s that women didn't have the killer instinct to be criminal prosecutors, her aspiration at the time.
"In other words, women aren't enough like criminals to become prosecutors.HahahahahaThe criminal always finds a way to confess, they say.
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Comment #7 posted by Dankhank on September 28, 2003 at 10:06:39 PT
Another one ....
Nuff' said ...sorry ... Ekim if I bummed you out ...I am bummed a lot these days at the sheer evil of this land of the free ....I medicate ... then pontificate ...
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on September 27, 2003 at 21:51:22 PT
Article from Snipped Source
Challenges of Drug War Don't Faze Tough TexanSeptember 27, 2003Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau
Karen Tandy won't name the Texas prosecutor who told her back in the 1970s that women didn't have the killer instinct to be criminal prosecutors, her aspiration at the time. But he should know that her aggressiveness was part of the reason she has been named as the first woman to run the Drug Enforcement Administration. "She has been willing to take on tough jobs, to solve problems, and to push. She has shown that she believes law enforcment can be pro-active, not just passively waiting for someone to poison yet another child with drugs and then arrest them," said John Walters, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Tandy, 49, from the north Texas town of Hurst, was officially sworn in as the head of the DEA on Tuesday, after being confirmed by the Senate in August. She previously headed the Justice Department's anti-drug task forces around the country. It was while clerking for a federal judge in Texas soon after graduating from Texas Tech in the 1970s that Tandy came to admire assistant district attorneys. "I decided that is what I wanted to do with my life," she said in a recent interview at DEA headquarters in northern Virginia. "I had thought that I would stay in Texas, but one of the potential employers I interviewed with told me women didn't have the killer instinct to be criminal prosecutors. That caused me to look to the Department of Justice and move to Washington." Tandy's nomination passed the Senate with limited dissent. There was some criticism from lawmakers and advocates wary of her tough stand on the issue of DEA raids targeted at patients claiming to use marijuana for medicinal purposes. Tandy said she would not support temporarily discontinuing the raids. That angered proponents of medical marijuana, including Steve Fox, of the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project. "To claim there is no evidence of marijuana's medical benefits, without having bothered to read the two key U.S. government reports on the issue, is as absurd as claiming there is no constitutional protection for abortion rights without having read Roe v. Wade," Fox said. "Tandy has demonstrated the `don't confuse me with facts' attitude that has characterized the entire federal attack on medical marijuana." But Tandy does not apologize for her position. "It is not about marijuana as medicine. That is a lie," said Tandy. "Legalizers have very cleverly and effectively used that as a smoke screen for what they really are about, legalizing illicit drugs." At the DEA, Tandy will concentrate on disrupting major drug operations and targeting the more than $65 billion in profits they take in each year. When the DEA job opened up earlier this year, several current and former law enforcement officials in Washington went to bat for Tandy, including Walters, Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson and former DEA administrator Jack Lawn. "I was very supportive of the decision to nominate her," Walters said. "I thought there was no one better to carry on the work DEA is doing." Snipped:Complete Article:
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Comment #5 posted by ekim on September 27, 2003 at 21:13:15 PT
Oct 1 03 Drug Prohibition Presidential Candidates 
Sep 27 03 Arizona Breakfast Club 08:00 AM Jack Cole Phoenix Arizona USA 
 Executive Director Jack Cole explains the "sea change" by law enforcement across America in the War on Drugs. 
October 2003 
Oct 1 03 Drug Prohibition and the Presidential Candidates 07:00 PM Jack Cole Lebanon New Hampshire USA 
 LEAP executive director journeys to Dartmouth University to discuss why the presidential candidates ignore the issue of drug prohibition. 
Oct 2 03 Introduction to Crime and Justice course at UMass Dartmouth 03:15 PM Jack Cole MA USA 
 Jack Cole will present alternative policies to the US War on Drugs to another of Professor Robin Robinson's , “Introduction to Crime and Justice,” courses in the Sociology and Anthropology Department of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. 
Oct 2 03 Introduction to Crime and Justice course at UMass Dartmouth 02:00 PM Jack Cole North Dartmouth MA USA 
 Jack Cole will present alternative policies to the US War on Drugs to Professor Robin Robinson's course, “Introduction to Crime and Justice,” in the Sociology and Anthropology Department of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. 
Oct 6 03 Cavern City Rotary 12:00 PM Jack Cole Carlsbad New Mexico USA 
 Executive Director Jack Cole begins the New Mexico tour with a trip to Carlsbad. 
Oct 7 03 Western New Mexico University 08:00 AM Jack Cole Silver City NM USA 
 Jack Cole tells studensts at Western New Mexico University in the Criminal Justice and Minorities Course of the history of Racial Profiling in the United States. 
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 27, 2003 at 20:57:41 PT
I am impressed with Howards cross country trek. If there is anything I know it is about horses. I spent most of my life working with them and raising them. I appreciate how hard it must be to get all the things done that I'm sure he wishes he could do along the way of the 3100 mile ride but he has a tremendous responsibilty to his partner, his horse Misty. He can't just park her or tie her to a tree and do more. A horse is a delicate creature and he must keep much of his concentration on her for both of their safety. She also is blind in one eye and it impresses me that that mare trusts him like she must. He's doing a wonderful thing.
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Comment #3 posted by ekim on September 27, 2003 at 20:42:52 PT
gee Post i miss your words of wistom
that got to me. been feelen sad since Dank and i were on the same page. peace Brother. FYI we did a call in cable access show with Howard on Sept 22 he was kicking ass. He thru every lie and dasterly deed done by the man back at them. These guys are sounding the alarm, just as in this story. I strongly suggest that if you can book a LEAP speaker and hear whats on his or her mind at a event near you. Then you come back here and tell it like it is. mike
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Comment #2 posted by goneposthole on September 27, 2003 at 17:48:42 PT
more power to him
Did he stop at any prisons along the way?Free as a bird while others sit in the Crowbar Hotel.This doesn't make any sense.Prisoners in the gulag in Russia starved and froze in their dog-eat-dog environment for years while the Soviet intelligence employees enjoyed their retirement, too.Mr. Woolridge can enjoy his retirement at the expense of those who have suffered the trauma of incarceration due to the ill-conceived policies of a drug war gone mad.It just isn't fair. In fact, it is disgustingly horrific.The names of those victimized increase in number each day.It is difficult to understand why the drug war continues as such.  
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on September 27, 2003 at 13:07:17 PT
Picture from Above Article
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