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War on Drugs: New Jim Crow--Slavery

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Puzzlement; who is 'winning' the so-called "war-on-drugs ?"


This fifth in a series of articles pertaining to the "War on Drugs" illustrates a huge disconnect from our government toward average citizens.

To write this piece, I interviewed my brother, 18 year veteran police officer and detective, Howard Wooldridge (retired), now with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, www.leap.cc, stationed in Washington, DC.

"One hundred and forty two years ago lawmakers amended the United States Constitution to eliminate slavery and give full citizenship to the freed slaves," Officer Wooldridge said.  "How well has 'freedom' worked for the descendants of slaves?  Certainly there has been tremendous progress in the past several decades.  Record numbers of African-Americans hold elected offices and important positions in government.

"Just as certain, millions of blacks have been put in chains, lost their votes, even had their children taken away from them.   Black neighborhoods are too often plagued with violence, crime and despair.  For over 100 years Jim Crow kept the black population from enjoying citizenship.   In the past 36 years the 'War on Drugs' has devastated African-Americans nearly as much as Jim Crow." By the late 1960s Jim Crow laws of the South disappeared.  


The KKK's power to intimidate blacks and local politicians vanished like a raindrop in the Sahara Desert.  With the Voting Rights Act of 1965, millions of blacks voted for the first time. African-Americans made progress economically, educationally, spiritually and politically.  The Old South would never be the same, or at least it seemed that would happen.  The future appeared bright.

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"Then, President Nixon launched a 'War on Drugs' in 1971," Officer Howard Wooldridge said.  "He committed the United States to a 'drug-free' America, established the Drug Enforcement Administration and poured money into law enforcement to stop this 'scourge.'  President Reagan continued this battle cry of a 'drug-free' America and added mandatory minimums to those possessing or selling drugs.  

We 'public-service troops' in law enforcement knew it to be a "War on People" – mostly People of Color.   Whether by design, ignorance or lack of research, the New Prohibition policy has been nothing short of devastating to people of color – black Americans in particular.

Blatant discrimination; blacks are the losers


"Due to racial profiling and the nature by which blacks sell drugs openly on the streets, they are incarcerated at a ratio of about eight to one over white drug dealers.  As they are more visible to buyers, so are they more obvious to others who want the dealer's money, drugs and selling turf.  Thus, everyone buys weapons to protect themselves or to rob and kill the dealers.  

"Black neighborhoods have been for decades plagued by gunfire and death.  Minor disputes escalate into deadly force being employed.  The quality of life in a black neighborhood, never that prosperous, has been dramatically lowered due to another, unintended consequence of drug prohibition."

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Life has been cheapened by the decades of violent deaths.  


A recent drive-by shooting in Washington DC resulted in seven people hit by bullets as everyone ducked for cover.  Because it happened that the victims were black, the local paper buried it on page 17.  Since the policy of the drug war gives a job option to a million teens, thousands have been shot and killed.  However, no one outside the victim's family raises an eyebrow when a 15 year old dies on the street corner.  We no longer react to the horror of a violent death at such a young age, especially when the victim is black.

"Homeowners put iron bars across all the windows, trying to stop thieves," Officer Wooldridge said.  "Every year dozens of black children die in house fires, unable to get out.  These young, innocent victims never saw another birthday because of drug prohibition.  You may not count them as drug war victims – but I do.

Political solution has become more difficult


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Frosty Wooldridge Bio: Frosty Wooldridge possesses a unique view of the world, cultures and families in that he has bicycled around the globe 100,000 miles, on six continents and six times across the United States in the past 30 years. His books (more...)

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