A rally calling for an end to the nation’s war on drugs will be held at noon Friday, June 17 outside the state’s James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life, including students, academics, violence prevention advocates, health and drug-treatment professionals, family members, friends and members of Chicago’s faith-based community, including many individuals who have witnessed destruction and tragedy when loved ones using drugs become convicted felons, are expected to attend the rally that will mark 40 years since President Richard Nixon, on June 17, 1971, first declared the nation’s War on Drugs.
“Growing numbers of people in this country have come to realize that the war on drugs is not working,” said Kathleen Kane-Willis, director of Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy and one of the co-sponsors of the Chicago event. Recent research by the Consortium on Drug Policy has shown Illinois ranks first in the nation in black to white disparities for locking up drug possession offenders. That research has also shown that $250 million a year is spent in Illinois to lock up drug offenders who can’t find jobs or housing when they leave prison and also are frequently shut out as convicted felons from making positive contributions to their communities and society as a whole. "According to the General Assembly’s Disproportionate Justice Impact Study, African Americans are eight times more likely than whites to face prison charges for simple drug possession,” said Pam Rodriguez, executive director of TASC., Inc.
Sponsors for the event include: AIDS Foundation Chicago, New Day Network, Enlace, Protestants for the Common Good, Roosevelt University’s Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, TASC, Inc., Community Renewal Society, CeaseFire, Chicago Justice Project, John Howard Association, Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, students involved in local Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapters and more than 30 churches across the Chicago area.
“The war on drugs and its ineffective, punitive policies have been a war on our black and brown communities resulting in the regrettably painful and shameful reality of mass incarceration in America. Justice seeking people must organize to stop this horrific situation,” said the Rev. Calvin Morris, president of the Community Renewal Society.
Among many events marking the 40th anniversary of the nation’s failed War on Drugs, rallies and other events are being planned in places like Logan, Utah; the Civic Center Plaza in San Francisco; New York City;, West Chester, Pa.; Kent, Ohio; Morgantown, W.V.; Washington, D.C.; outside the state of Michigan Capitol building; Tallahassee, Fla.; Eugene, Ore.; outside Miami City Hall; Boston; New Orleans; and Portland, Ore. “We need a public health approach to our drug policies. This rally will be a call to action for all of us to resolve to move beyond the lock-them-up approach that has torn apart families and communities and is harming our state’s future,” Kane-Willis said.
The Chicago event is expected to be one of the largest in the nation, and will kick off a series of policymaking meetings at Roosevelt University in which community organizers, academics, students and others will come together to continue their work begun last year in dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline.
“We must bring an end to this racist war on drugs and bring an end to the new Jim Crow,” said Heather Dalmage, director of the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation. Nancy Michaels, associate director, added: “There has been a focus on the high costs that are associated with mass incarceration, but we can’t lose sight of the fact that these unjust policies are civil rights issues.”
The Rev. Al Sharp, executive director of Protestants for the Common Good, added: “The Christian moral imperative is to be kind, just and wise. How can we consider ourselves to be kind, just or wise when we see staggering numbers of minorities being incarcerated for drug possession and do little to change that?”
For more information, visit the events section of the Roosevelt University homepage at www.roosevelt.edu.
430 S. Michigan Ave.Chicago, IL 60605(312) 341-3500
Directions & Maps
1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd.Schaumburg, IL 60173(847) 619-7300
Directions & Maps