I just returned from eight days in Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, where the capital, Manila, is located. For many years, the movement for national democracy in the Philippines has asked for international solidarity, including human rights defenders to aid them in their struggle for economic and political rights. The presence of people from other countries can help diminish the violence of the Philippine military and national police against the movement. In addition, as national elections approach on May 9 there has been a rise in human rights abuses, and so the need for international solidarity is more pressing.
After taking control of their community, the people of Cheran decided to ban political parties, abolish police, and establish a unique form of participatory democracy based on their indigenous Purepecha traditions. As anarchists, it was truly beautiful to be in a place where the people have seized control of their community from the state, and we were delighted to see that the community, by all appearances, is doing very well. Cheran has now been self-governing for over 10 years, and despite narco-violence being endemic in much of Michoacan, the autonomous town seems to be somewhat of an oasis in the midst of Mexico’s ongoing drug war. According to a 2017 article in the Los Angeles Times, there were ZERO murders or kidnappings reported in Cheran in the six years following the uprising.
A few weeks ago I covered the mind-blowing facts about American prisons that should make anyone and everyone rethink/detest/abhor the entire institution. Now, I want to examine the reasons people find themselves locked up in the largest prison state in the world (the Land of the Free) and see if we can’t decrease the number of inmates to something more reasonable …like, zero. Or one. …One guy who’s a real grade-A asshole. I’m well aware that many of you are already yelling, “But what about murderers and rapists?!” We’ll get to them in a minute. Keep your pantaloons fastened. Besides, “What about murderers and rapists?!” is a really abnormal thing to yell at something you’re reading. Come to think of it, maybe you’re not fit for society. Maybe we should lock you up.
We are torn by images of unaccompanied minors and overcrowded facilities at our southern border, but few in the United States are asking why so many Central American families are so desperate to escape their own countries that they are willing to risk everything — including family separation. These migrants are not fleeing some Act of God — drought or hurricanes or the like — that could not be anticipated or prevented. Rather, they are fleeing cartel violence and governmental corruption. As CNN recently noted, “poverty, crime, and corruption in Latin America have long been drivers of migration.” Indeed, many Central Americans have concluded that the risks of the journey, of the smugglers, and of the possibility of losing their children are outweighed by the near certainty of violence or death at home.
Something seismic happened in this election and it has nothing to do with Joe Biden winning. And yes, Joe Biden did indeed win. I’m sorry for those of you Trump fans who believe the election was rigged against him. It simply wasn’t. Yes, millions of Americans were indeed purged from the voter rolls – but they were mostly people of color. So if MAGA Nation are waiting for those votes to be counted, then Trump will actually do even worse. And I honestly don’t care if you’re thinking, “But I saw a video on Tik-Tok of someone burning a ballot and then smothering it in hot sauce and eating it.”
Voters in Oregon approved a historic ballot initiative that would decriminalize possession of smaller amounts of all illegal drugs and funnel tax revenue from legal marijuana sales into addiction treatment, potentially providing an early model for combating deep racial disparities in the criminal legal system and significantly slowing the war on drugs. Now that Measure 110 has passed with nearly 59 percent of the vote, racial disparities in drug arrests are expected to drop by an astounding 94 percent, according to an analysis by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, a state agency.
Arnold Trebach, who died last week at the age of 92, started the Drug Policy Foundation in the heat of Ronald Reagan's war on drugs. It was the same year that Joe Biden, a Democrat who is running for president this year as a criminal justice reformer, wrote the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, which prescribed new mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and created the notorious weight-based sentencing distinction that treated crack cocaine as if it were 100 times worse than cocaine powder.
The vague and easily misinterpreted call to Defund the Police has been spreading quickly across the USA. Some may have a knee-jerk reaction to “just say no” to this call, but polls show a vast majority of Americans are concerned about improving the lives of people of color across the country. Reforms such as teaching police to de-escalate conflicts and enforcement of body camera use have support of about 90% of Americans. So, what could solutions to the current situation look like, how could they be paid for, and should relative costs realistically be coming out of police budgets? My experience sharing oversight of a police budget as a City Councillor and Vice Mayor for four years gave me valuable insights to be able to propose concrete solutions.
Clearing the FOG co-hosts Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese interviewed Jacqueline Luqman of Coffe, Current Events and Politics in Luqman Nation about the Department of Justice's new Operation Relentless Pursuit. The initial phase of the program, which costs $71 million, targets seven cities, four of them majority black, with more money, police equipment, and federal law enforcement to supposedly combat crime. Luqman explains what the impact of the program will be on poor and black communities and what would be a more effective approach to crime. Listen to the full interview plus recent news and analysis, including what the corporate media isn't telling you about Iran and Iraq, on Clearing the FOG.
In December, the Department of Justice announced a new $71 million program, Operation Relentless Pursuit, that will increase policing and the involvement of federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency in seven cities, four of which are majority-black cities. Rather than addressing the root causes of crime, the program will result in greater repression and violence against these communities. We speak with Jacqueline Luqman about the program, what policies would be more effective and what people are doing to fight back. Kevin Zeese, who has worked for decades to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration, describes how similar programs have been tried in the past and have failed. We also provide current news and analysis.
A coalition of more than 100 civil rights groups—including ACLU, NAACP, National Education Association and National Organization for Women—released a criminal justice reform platform for the 2020 elections on Thursday that calls for the legalization of marijuana and supports the “dismantling” of the criminalization of other drugs. As part of the document’s plank on ending the war on drugs, the organizations said states should “legalize marijuana through a racial justice framework that focuses on access, equity, and repairing the damage of prohibition” and the federal government should end cannabis prohibition and “implement marijuana reform through a racial justice lens.”
I attended my first US Senate committee hearing about 30 years ago this year. It was the confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee of William Bennett to be the nation’s first Drug Czar. The hearing was chaired by Senator Joseph Biden, the Democrat from Delaware. The post of Drug Czar – Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, to give the job its proper name – as well as the Office of Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) itself was created by Joe Biden and his colleagues in the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988.
In April of the current year, media headlines pointed to a ‘revolution’ breaking out in Nicaragua against the Sandinista Front government headed by Commander Daniel Ortega. Until then, and for 11 years, the government of that country, legitimately chosen in elections supervised by regional organizations, had carried out wide-ranging programs for reducing residual poverty, poor health, and illiteracy and also implemented many social programs that benefited rural and urban populations. Highways, roads, aqueducts, and an expansive electrical system were constructed.