12/19/14 Ray Hill

100 Years is ENOUGH! rally in Houston in front of criminal court house, KPFT patriarch Ray Hill, Michael Allen of End Mass Incarceration, Representatives of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, NORML, DPFT and others

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Friday, December 19, 2014
Guest: 
Ray Hill
Organization: 
Organizer
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

DECEMBER 19, 2014

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker, you're listening to Cultural Baggage on Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network. This was recorded in front of the Harris County Courthouse, Houston, Texas, our rallying cry: 100 Years Of The Black Market In Drug Is Enough.

Today, December 17th, 2014, marks the 100th year anniversary of the passage of the Harrison Narcotics Act. We are gathered here to ask one question: What is the benefit of drug war? These drug laws, however well-intentioned, have morphed over this past century to become a huge and ugly stain on our nation's soul. This drug war has become a festering collection of lies, innuendo, corruption, bigotry, hatred, and fear, with little to no redeeming value.

What we must prohibit is the black market. Drug prohibition of the ludicrously named controlled substances, generates revenues of more than 300 hundred billion dollars a year. Beneficiaries of this loot are terrorists, bloody latin cartels, and the US gangs who lure our children into lives of crime and addiction. We must legalize all drugs for adult use. Decrim will leave the gangs and cartels still in charge of sales and distribution. We must sell it at CVS and Walgreens for pennies on the black market dollar or we will maintain the cartels and gangs.

Let's judge adults by their actions, and not by the black products in their pockets. This prohibition gives life of the black market and therefore has never stopped even one determined child from getting their hands on drugs. So again, I ask, what is the benefit? What do we derive from believing in drug war? If you thoroughly examine the evidence it's clear that those who believe in drug war do not believe in public safety. Thank you for being here.

Next up we hear from my good friend from End Mass Incarceration Houston, Mr. Michael Allen.

MICHAEL ALLEN: Draconian marijuana laws are killing our nation, they have been for 100 years. Our prisons are full, millions have been sentenced, to spend time in prison for nonviolent crimes, no victims. These are tearing our families apart, these are ruining these people's lives, these are having a completely adverse effect on the integrity of the structure of our nation.

Billions of dollars are being made by lawyers, by private prison firms, and by the state. The people are suffering behind these draconian laws. It's time to try something different. The Portuguese model is working. They have legalized everything. All drug problems are taken care of on a medical model, not a legal model. Drug use by teenagers in ten years has been cut in half in Portugal.

It's time for America to wake up. This does not work. We can't continue until we have tens of millions of us in jail for crimes that affect no one, that affect no one at all. It's time for us to wake up and change the way that we've done things, 40 years of making a mistake does not excuse 40 more.

DEAN BECKER: Next up we hear from the patriarch of KPFT, Mr. Ray Hill, my mentor, my instructor.

RAY HILL: I want to thank – I want to thank all of you folks for turning out today. This is a very special occasion. For 100 years, this country has been sick. The Harrison Act took effect 100 years ago today and look at us today, we're right on the verge of some serious changes. The amazing thing is that there are not more of us here, because whenever we get to the point when we're decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, medical marijuana is crossing the country in almost a uniform movement, and the recreational use of light drugs is a reality that is just on the horizon.

So all of you have got money to invest in 2015, I suggest you look into confectionery and diet stuff because I think we're going to have an outbreak of the munchies in America coming up soon, and you can't lose money on a smart bet. So before I give up the microphone I wanted to point out that my friend Dean Becker has helped carry the forefront of this movement for a while now. He exploits well one of my favorite things, that's radio, he's used public access television to advantage in educating the public and reinforcing his supporters to have the courage to stand up, and standing up pays off.

DEAN BECKER: Mr. Ray Hill. Anyone else? Would you like to speak?

Again, you're listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. This was taped right in front of the Harris County Courthouse so little wonder that few people wanted to speak up, but this young lady sure did.

AMARA: Hello, my name is Amara. I volunteer with NORML frequently, and I've got a few things I want to say. Basically, I hope that something comes of all this protesting and outrage over racial injustice. I don't personally think it's a specifically racist issue only because I think it's a much deeper social issue. Racial is a part, on the face of the problem but it's much deeper than that. And if race is the catalyst that calls attention to our corrupted system then so be it. But the real problem is our big business prison systems.

Privatized prisons and for-profit penal systems are a disgrace to us as human beings. Drug incarceration makes up fifty percent of our nation's disgraceful prison population. Marijuana illegalization is at the heart of our system breakdown. It is an irrational stranglehold big businesses have on our population and we allow it. NORML meetings should be packed all over the country. People should demand that balance be put back in place. Hemp as an industrial product should be demanded by every citizen, in the south in particular, where it grows like fire and could completely transform our economy in a heartbeat.

And yet NORML meetings are empty. People don't give their support, they just want to get high. Racial injustice is an extension of the deeper unbalance with which we live. It's a symptom of the disease. The disease is we're dependent on lies. We're dependent on industry. We're dependent on consumerism, because we've long ago forgotten what it is to provide for ourselves. And how could we? Farmers are criminals, the downtrodden are commodities, and our leaders are fearful puppets that get shot in the face if they rock the boat.

I actually don't see much coming of the racial protests, the DOJ has already announced their response is police body cameras, I just think that's more bandaids to protect the lies and billion-dollar prison systems. More treating the symptoms and refusing to investigate the source.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. Give it up. I've been speaking to the group of lawyers that meet up there on the seventh floor, the defense attorneys, for months now. I went up there a half hour ago, invited them to come down here, they so far haven't shown up, but I guess that the point I'd like to make is, everybody benefits from this drug war except the people getting busted. The criminal defense lawyers, the sheriff, the police chief, the DA – you know, it's all set up to take advantage of the disadvantaged, and that's what's going on here in these United States, under the banner of eternal war on certain plant products. Okeh, please, somebody step forward. You're here for a reason, come on, share your reason.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Yeah, I'd like to thank everybody for coming, thank you for organizing this. This is my first real rally, at any kind of event, and I'm kind of stepping up as a baby boomer, who started off in the seventies and I'm – you know, it's time for us baby boomers to step up and say what we really feel about marijuana, that we want it legalized, we're tired of our friends getting busted, tired of our kids getting busted, for small amounts of marijuana. Ninety-eight percent of all the drug arrests for marijuana are related to two ounces or less, so we need to really repeal this prohibitoin on marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: For what it's worth, I've been reporting on the drug war for thirteen years now for KPFT, I've invited everybody who is, uh, that wears a badge or that indicts people to come on my show. Thus far, the District Attorney, Devon Anderson, has refused to do so. They gave me an excuse they couldn't be here today because she had a prior commitment. I think that commitment is due to eternal drug war, but she's not here.

Neither is the sheriff Adrian Garcia but just last week, on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle carried a major editorial about the good counsel of our police chief, Mr. Charles McLelland, and it seems the truth is coming out when law enforce – top law enforcement officials begin to say the drug war is a miserable failure, it gives us room to stand in support of the chief's words and thoughts. All I can suggest is that if you know the truth about this drug war and you remain silent, you are part of the problem.

That is – that's what's going on, the vast majority of the American people recognize the utter failure of this drug war and yet, because they're afraid to speak up at church, at school at work or in any venue for fear of being demonized as a druggie, they fail to say anything. And so it is my suggestion that, no matter the circumstance, no matter where you are, this is a legitimate topic of discussion and I urge you to please, bring it forward at every opportunity. This drug war is on its last legs, it's ending slow, bloody, and ugly. Please, please help in a mercy killing of this degenerate beast.

AMARA: I was just going to say that I, growing up in the 80s I was kind of the target audience for the DARE program, so growing up, you know, we'd have officers come to our classes, line us up against the walls and make us repeat after them, I will die if I ever smoke weed. They really tried to indoctrinate us, my generation especially, with a bunch of lies. They tried very hard and it backfired, because when my generation got old enough to know that that was lies, we're very angry about it, it's like hey, I've been lied to, I've been forced to say things that aren't true, I've been forced to adopt an ideology that's not true at all.

So, I think, I just want to say the DARE program, you know, as much as they tried to manipulate and use us to continue this ridiculousness, it's just backfiring on them ten-fold.

DEAN BECKER: This past summer, July 29th, my son, sitting there behind the camera, and I went to Washington, DC. We had a conference in the House Rayburn Building. It was about my book, To End The War On Drugs. We took a brand new edition, the policy-maker's edition. We gave a copy to every US Representative, to every US Senator, to the President, to his cabinet, to all nine Supreme Court Justices, and we mailed a copy to all fifty US governors, declaring this drug war to be a miserable failure, challenging them to defend this policy, and thus far there is nobody who wants to step forward and defend this.

I don't know what else to say except, we own the moral high ground, we own the spirit of this, we own every aspect of it, there is no reason for the drug war to exist, it has no nexus with reality, it is a pipe dream, it is a fairy tale from men put forward 100 years ago designed to frighten us into submission, designed to frighten us into believing that this drug war is a necessary item for our nation. Well, the attorneys didn't come down, the sheriff didn't appear, the police chief's not here, the district attorney is not going to show, nobody from the city council that I'm aware of is here, the mayor has not shown. Nobody wants to defend this because it cannot be defended.

Again, you're listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network. There were so few people willing to speak up right there in front of the Harris County Courthouse but my mentor Ray Hill fears nobody.

RAY HILL: Oh, isn't it hell to show up for a war and find out you don't have another side. Well, you know, you know, all these movements, actually, to lessen anybody's freedom, to silence anybody's ideas, to move anybody into a lesser position in society, there are a lot of armchair advocates for all of that, trust me, I've been in the gay movement for over fifty years, run into that a lot. But when you draw a line and say come and defend your position, that line remains vacant. It's difficult in the bright light of a cloudy day in Houston Texas to come here and try to make sense of something that was a mistake 100 years ago and remains a mistake now.

It is not defensible. They will get on the air so low and tell us how horrible we are and how horrible the things we advocate would result in, but they're not willing to join us in open, exploratory, both sides have equal time, debate. It's not a surprise to me. I've been in movements involved, well, my parents were labor goons, and the right of workers was difficult to deny. And when workers got together and stood and called those who were trying to suppress them to defend their position, nobody came to do that. They would show up with Pinkerton men and kill some of us, they would try to put false charges on others of us, but we didn't have anybody to debate because they have no supportable position.

Again I want to thank everybody for coming out. The main thing is to keep on keeping on, keep on working, and again I congratulate Dean Becker for the fine work he has done in the leadership of this movement and as I told the police chief just yesterday, I said, Chief, the first responsibility of leadership is to lead, and the best way to do that is by example.

DEAN BECKER: Mr. Ray Hill, thank you sir. My friends, I'm asking again, anybody want to speak up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Yeah, just a quick note, I want to say that the last three presidents of the United States have admitted to smoking marijuana and said there's nothing wrong with it, and, you know, the Chief of Police now says the war on drugs is a complete failure, and you know, I think it's time for – and our governor has spoken up and said let's decriminalize it, and I think that's his way of saying let's move towards legalization eventually, so people we just need to continue to work to step up, and, you know, put our position forward and say we're for legalization of marijuana.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE VOICE: Hello, my name is Diangie Helm [spelling?], and I, I had a stroke when I was 25 years old. I'm 27 now, and I'm living with chronic pain, and I've been given vicodin, valium, all these prescription drugs that are killing my liver and tearing me apart. I'm 27 and I think that I look about 40. Marijuana is not legal in this state, it was decriminalized in California so it was much easier to get when I lived in California.

But, out here it's definitely harder to get. They just want to keep doping me up on these prescription meds which are killing me faster than marijuana ever could. And, it's, I just really wish that they would push this, because it would save a lot of people's livers and lives.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. You know, I do a segment on my radio show, it's called “Name That Drug By Its Side Effects.” And you know, you hear these commercials on TV, you know, it will give you some benefit but it may lead to, you know, liver failure, and stroke, and even death, and yet marijuana has never killed even one person.

AMARA: Yeah, Steve made a good point about our president, have already come out and said that marijuana's not harmful, our DOJ has already made steps, I mean all across the board. Medically, marijuana has made a lot headway, there's a lot of tests, there's a lot of results, and right now is the time for people to stand up and start taking responsibility for it, it's not going to legalize on its own, and the only reason that it's not legalized in my opinion is that nobody's out in the streets saying this every day, nobody's demanding it, it's up to us to demand our rights back, nobody's just going to give it back to us, they took it from us because they wanted to control the population and they wanted to make the money off of it, and the longer that we stand by silent the longer they're going to just keep doing it.

And it's not that anybody is maybe specifically wanting to harm us or whatever, it's just that we're not asking for it, we're not taking a stand, we're not saying I need this now, not let's think about it, not, you know, tomorrow, like today, now. Hemp needs to be growing in America, that's what America is good for, it grows here like wildfire. Hemp is an industrial product, could help our whole economy. Marijuana, the medical benefits of marijuana are numerous, and the only reason that we don't have it is because we don't ask for it, we don't demand it.

So it's time for everybody to be aware of this and talk to other people, open, honest communication with everybody that you can, and you can't hold back and you can't be ashamed or you can't be afraid of what people are going to think of you because this is what our society needs, this is what we need as human beings.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, you're listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio, I apologize for the quality of the audio, but, hell it's outdoors and traffic.

She mentioned, uh, the growth of hemp. I told the police chief this, I'll say it right here in front of the courthouse. Back before I got into radio, fifteen years ago, fifteen years ago, I used to grow some pretty fine cannabis up near Hempstead, Texas. And I'm sure they used to grow a lot of hemp up by Hempstead, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Hi, yeah. Uh, I'm also with another group, if it's okeh to talk about, Move To Amend. We have a national organization but our two points, our two issues that we are concerned about, is the massive amounts of money in our elections, one, and two, that over the years the corporations have been given constitutional rights. One of the reasons that the drug war has gone on so long is the massive amounts of money that are being poured into special interests, the prisons, the legal industry has a strong interest in keeping the drug war alive, that's how they make a lot of their money. This money comes back and is funneled back into getting politicians elected who are, who will support this drug war. So we want to cut this process off.

DEAN BECKER: I'd like to tack on one thought, and that is, one of the main money outfits are the banks that launder the black market money on behalf of the cartels and gangs. It's three hundred seventy five billion dollars a year, and I hear that in some instances the banks get up to fifty percent of the money from these gangs as they launder it. They don't want this drug war to end and they've certainly got the money.

ZOE RUSSELL: Hello everyone, my name is Zoe Russell and I'm a volunteer with Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. And we were founded by Anne and Bob Lee, and Anne and Bob are 85 and 90 years old respectively, and they're lifelong Republicans, Goldwater Republicans, and their son in 1990 had a workplace accident that put him in a wheelchair as a paraplegic, and he looked at them and told them marijuana is my medicine, and that's the last thing in the world they wanted to hear.

But they believed him and did research and prayed, and discovered that their government had lied to them, and it was the first time Anne had ever realized that her government had lied to her. So, she, basically, from 1990 began her support of her son. He opened up a hemp store in Houston, on Montrose, and his first customers were police officers, and they ended up buying some stuff because everything of course was perfectly legal and he wanted to show people that this plant has just been totally misinterpreted.

He co-founded Houston NORML and he moved to California in '95, right ahead of them legalizing medical marijuana out there, and opened up Oaksterdam University eventually, and was raided by Obama's DEA, and is now a professor at the University. So Anne Lee formed RAMP in 2012 with her husband because they thought that marijuana prohibition is completely opposed to Republican principles of fiscal conservatism and individual liberty and personal responsibility and it just doesn't work, prohibition doesn't work so we're against the prohibition.

We think that law enforcement is not necessarily a tool to treat people who abuse drugs and it creates a lot more problems that it's trying to solve. So, we're working to talk to lawmakers and if anyone is interested in meeting their lawmaker, we want to help people do that. So thanks very much Dean for putting this together and everything that you've done for so many years with Anne and with Drug Policy Forum of Texas.

MICHAEL ALLEN: Hi, I'm Mike Allen, with End Mass Incarceration Houston, and I've been reading a book by a friend of mine that's called To End the Drug War, no, To End The War On Drugs. That's right, it's Dean's book, shameless plug. But, I've been reading some interesting things. I don't think anybody focuses on the fact that these laws were racist in nature.

These laws came about primarily to outlaw opium because they didn't want the Chinese workers, because they worked harder and cheaper. Okeh? They outlawed cocaine because they said that black men could work longer and they were bulletproof. Okeh? They outlawed marijuana laws because they said the Mexicans could work longer and they might rape women, too. So all of these laws started on a racial basis.

You know, I'd also like to point out that before any of these laws came about, that one and a half percent of our population was addicted or used drugs. Okeh? Now, after all these years of police persecution, judicial persecution, incarceration, the percentage is one and half percent. They're not doing any good.

Something else that we don't focus on is what this, not only in this country, but what this, this practice of making these drugs illegal and desirable has done in other countries. Colombia is a nightmare. The 43 students that were abducted by a cartel in Mexico and killed, presumably killed, they've disappeared, nobody knows where they are. It is causing all kinds of political unrest in Mexico today, drug cartels.

There are businessmen sitting in these buildings here that have planes that fly this stuff over. If they lose a plane, they don't care, they're, they are insulated against persecution. Their people and they don't talk because these businesses, businessmen pay them well. Follow the money, this is a money game. Take the money out of it, we can shut down half of the prisons, get rid of a lot of the cops, get rid of a lot of the lawyers and the judges. It's time to make a change, this is crazy.

DEAN BECKER: Give it up, come on, give it up.

JASON MILLER: All right. Hey, how's everybody doing tonight? My name is Jason Miller, I'm the executive director of the Houston chapter of NORML, which is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. And I want to encourage people to get involved. We're having a meeting tomorrow night, 7:30pm Midtown Bar & Grill, and we're going to have some special guest speakers that are both criminal defense attorneys, and they're going to be talking to us about what's going on in Harris County right now, and answering our questions.

DEAN BECKER: I thank you Jason. One hundred years, think about that, a century of lies. This drug war has no basis with reality. It's a fraud, it's a sham, scam, flimflam, we have been hoodwinked, bamboozled for 100 years, we have been frightened into submission, and we need to develop our courage, we need to stand together, we need to alert these politicians, these district attorneys, these police chief and sheriffs that we know the truth and we know they know the truth, and it's time to end this madness of drug war.

I want to thank everybody for coming out. I want to chastise all the attorneys that did not show, the judges that did not show, all the others that know this truth but hide from this truth. The drug war's ending, we will help expedite its demise. Thank you all so much.

CROWD: No more drug war! No more drug war! No more drug war! No more drug war!