August 6, 2020
The United States has reached a turning point and there is no going back.
We are living a devastating public health nightmare that has hit with special vengeance among vulnerable workers and is even worse for those in prison and in immigrant detention facilities. At the same time we are living a transformative mass revolt against racism and police violence that has deep community roots and majority support across the country — even as it faces virulent opposition and violent, unconstitutional crackdown by President Trump and his followers.
For decades the Drug War has been a core pretext for racist policies. It is a principal driver of racist mass incarceration and the hyper militarization of police and public security. The Drug War is a central pillar of the malevolent structures we oppose. It must be ended.
To connect the dots between the drug war, mass incarceration and the movements for black and brown lives, Walter Turner, Board President of Global Exchange, history professor and longtime host of “Africa Today” on KPFA radio hosted a conversation with three leaders in the movements to end the drug war and mass incarceration about where we are, where we need to be, and how we get there.
Kassandra Frederique is the incoming executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a lead organization in the fight to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities—and build alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights.
Juan Cartegena is the President & General Counsel of LatinoJustice, a Constitutional and Civil Rights Attorney and one of the nation’s leading voices on equality and nondiscrimination. As a lecturer, El Diario columnist, and Rutgers University lecturer, Juan focuses extensively on Puerto Rican and Latino rights issues, including the community impacts of mass incarceration. He works to inspire change to systems that marginalize communities of color.
Anthony Papa of 15yearstolife.com is a long time advocate of drug policy and prison reform. His passion is rooted in his own life experience of a drug bust in his youth that led to a 15 year to life sentence under New York’s draconian Rockefeller laws. Now — after receiving clemency from Gov. George Pataki 1997 (and later a pardon from Andrew Cuomo in 2016) he is a frequent public speaker and college lecturer on art and criminal justice issues.