Ending the “War on Drugs” is the goal of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, which is organizing a “Day of Direct Action” on June 17 outside the White House to pressure President Obama to address the devastation the “war” inflicts on black urban communities.
President Richard M. Nixon designed the War on Drugs to target drug imports and street level demand for drugs on June 17, 1971.
But 42 years later, IBW President Dr. Ron Daniels says the War on Drugs left behind social ramifications, such as police profiling of blacks and Latinos, gun violence, and a huge prison population of mostly black males, thus creating “a state of emergency” in inner city neighborhoods, which IBW calls “dark ghettos.”
“The levels of joblessness, underemployment, inferior education, crime, violence, and fratricide in America’s dark ghettos are an unacceptable moral and political crisis which cries out for presidential leadership to promote the development of wholesome, sustainable communities,” said Daniels.
While Daniels announced the day of action at an April 4 Washington, D.C. press conference, IBW launched its end to the War on Drugs Initiative at a 2011 forum that included a number activists – including the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. giving the keynote address, Dr. Elsie Scott, Congressman John Conyers, and Congressman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott.
Part of what IBW wants is eliminating the racial disparity in sentencing. IBW also wants the President to issue Executive Orders that replace the War on Drugs with a national initiative that treats drug addiction as a public health issue, ends the practice of prison labor; and, support to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of Marijuana.
Some of the suggested actions IBW wants the White House to take in ending the War on Drugs are in line with what some Latin American countries want – including Mexico and Colombia, according to a 400-page Organization of American States report. The May 17, 2013, report on drug policies shows how it erodes “the health of our people, the quality of our governments, and even our democracy.” The report says “a public health approach is needed” rather than incarceration to address drug use and consider the “decriminalization of drug use,” while offering a cost/benefit analysis of the potential benefits of said decriminalization.
“Thus far, the response from the White House on these vital issues is grossly insufficient,” said Daniels. “Therefore, those who marched on ballot boxes in the presidential election must march/assemble at the gates of the White House as ‘Drum Majors’ for justice to underscore the urgent need for the President to decisively act on this issue.”
Citing IBW’s “War on Drugs Initiative slogan, “The War on Drugs is a War on Us,” Daniels said. “With enough studies, forums, and conferences on these issues, it is finally time for activists, advocates, and organizers to take to the streets to call for an end to the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and demand investment in distressed communities in this nation.”