Monday May 20, 2013
'Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity' Calls for End to Drug War that's Killed 60,000Salem-News.com
Pro-Legalization Police Officers Join Poet Javier Sicilia and Other Drug War Victims to Make 6,000-Mile Journey Through 20 Cities to Honor Lives Lost to Failed Prohibition Policies, Culminating in International Day of Action in Washington, D.C.
(SAN DIEGO) - This Sunday, August 12, a broad bi-national coalition of more than 100 organizations will join the Mexican Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity (MPJD) to embark on a month-long “Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity” across the United States.
The Caravan is led by renowned Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, who emerged as a leader of the MPJD after his son Juan Francisco was killed in senseless prohibition-related violence last year. Sicilia and other victims and family members from Mexico will unite with victims and supporters from the U.S. for the voyage from San Diego to Washington, D.C., which will pass through much of the Southern U.S. as well as Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Baltimore.
“Our purpose is to honor our victims, to make their names and faces visible,” Sicilia said. “We will travel across the United States to raise awareness of the unbearable pain and loss caused by the drug war – and of the enormous shared responsibility for protecting families and communities in both our countries.”
Joining the victims and families of those who have been victimized will be several police officers, judges, prosecutors and other criminal justice professionals who have waged the war on drugs and seen up close how it has made the U.S. the world’s number one jailer while only causing ever-more violence. These law enforcers will escort the Caravan with a mock police vehicle decorated with anti-prohibition slogans.
"I spent decades as a police officer trying to make these drug laws work, but in the end it didn't do one bit of good," said Neill Franklin, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a retired narcotics cop from Baltimore.
"Keeping drugs illegal not only doesn't reduce drug use, but also causes death and destruction by creating a lucrative black market where violence is the primary tool used to protect profits. The blood of the 60,000 dead Mexicans and countless Americans who have lost their lives in illegal drug market violence here in the U.S. is on the hands of politicians who refuse to fix our clearly broken drug policies."
Bringing together victims from both countries, the Caravan aims to expose the root causes of violence in Mexico, to raise awareness about the effects of the drug war on communities in the U.S., and to inspire U.S. civil society to demand new policies that will foster peace, justice and human dignity on both sides of the border.
“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,” stated 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.”
Oscar Chacón, Executive Director of National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC), stated that, “Our decision to join the Caravan for Peace comes from an understanding that many U.S. policy failures are interconnected: from the drug war, to the highly punitive approach to human migration, to hateful anti-immigrant policies, to the systematic incarceration of increasing numbers of people, particularly racial minorities.” He added, “The Caravan offers us the opportunity to begin to explore solutions based on a shared commitment to the well-being of people across borders.”
Beginning at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, CA, the Caravan for Peace will travel over 6,000 miles through more than 20 cities and communities in 10 states—including Los Angeles, Santa Fe, El Paso, Houston, Montgomery, New Orleans, Chicago and New York—before arriving in Washington, D.C., on September 10. The Caravan will officially conclude on September 12 by calling for an International Day of Action for Peace in Mexico.
The goal of the Caravan for Peace is to engage in citizen diplomacy to stop the U.S.-led war on drugs and to start a healing process from the national emergency that has devastated Mexico. Throughout the journey, family members will tell stories of the drug war’s human toll while building ties with communities throughout the U.S. also deeply impacted by the drug war.
Since 2006, more than 60,000 people have been killed and more than 10,000 have disappeared in Mexico due to violence caused by drug prohibition. Rather than curbing drug use or supply, prohibition has enriched violent traffickers, armed with illegal weapons and sustained by laundered money, both of which flow into Mexico from the U.S. unabated. The militarization of drug policy has only escalated the violence, corruption and impunity, leading to more deaths and disappearances that have torn the fabric of Mexican society.
The drug war has produced painful consequences in the United States as well. The U.S. ranks first in the world in incarcerating its own citizens, with less than 5% of the world's population but nearly 25% of the world's prison population. Roughly 500,000 people are behind bars for a drug law violation today. Blacks and Latinos are vastly overrepresented among those arrested and incarcerated for drug offenses, even though drug use rates are similar across racial and ethnic lines. Thousands of people in the U.S. have died because of prohibition-related violence. And thousands more have died because the criminalization of people who use drugs makes them too afraid to seek treatment or to call 911 in the event of an overdose. Instead of keeping communities safe, the war on drugs has become the longest, deadliest and most costly war in U.S. history.
In each city along the way, the Caravan will be welcomed by local communities, who have planned rallies, marches, candlelight vigils, forums, performance art and more. For details about the events planned in each city, visit: http://www.caravanforpeace.org
More than 100 U.S. organizations* are part of the Caravan effort. In addition to NAACP, LEAP and NALACC, these include National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), National Latino Congreso, Latin America Working Group (LAWG), Border Angels / Angeles de la Frontera, CIP-Americas Program, Presente.org, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), Veterans for Peace, Witness for Peace, L.A. Community Legal Center, Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, School of the Americas Watch, Fellowship for Reconciliation and Global Exchange.
Also participating are: Alianza Cívica, Sin Fronteras, INEDIM, Fuerzas Unidas por los Desaparecidos en México, Asociación Popular de Familiares de Migrantes (APOFAM), FUNDEM, Red por los Derechos de la Infancia, CuPIDH, Espolea, Reverdecer, Iniciativa Ciudadana para la Promoción de la Cultura de Diálogo, Pastoral de Movilidad Humana, Alarbo, Servicios para la Paz, Serapaz, Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (Cencos), and many more.
About the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity: http://www.movimientoporlapaz.
Twitter: @CaravanaUSA (http://www.twitter.com/
* Supporting organizations do not necessarily endorse all of the Caravan’s policy positions.
Tom Angell, Media Relations Director
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
AIM: ThisIsTomAngell // GChat: tomangell
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