10/02/16 Doug McVay

Nate Howard with MovementBe and MovementBe.org, plus we look at the FBI's new Uniform Crime Report.

Century of Lies
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Doug McVay
Drug War Facts
Download: Audio icon col100216.mp3



OCTOBER 2, 2016


DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

NGAIO BEALUM: Let's hear it for Doug McVay. Doug McVay!

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

It's fall, and I always look forward to this time of year, because so many of the reports and much of the statistical data that I use in compiling Drug War Facts gets released in the month of September and on through the end of the year. Things like the new National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a new census on drug courts and other problem solving courts, a new report by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs or ESPAD, to name but a few.

One of the biggest however is the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, which gets released every September.

The Uniform Crime Report is an annual statistical report on crime and law enforcement in the United States. According to the UCR, police made a total of 10,797,088 arrests for all criminal offenses in 2015. That's a significant drop from the previous year's total of 11,205,833, and a huge decline from twenty years previously in the mid-1990s, when total annual arrests topped the fifteen million mark.

2015 also saw the lowest number of drug arrests in 20 years, dropping below 1.5 million for the first time since 1995. Of the 1,488,707 arrests for drug law violations in 2015, 83.9 percent of them, or 1,249,025, were for possession of a controlled substance. Only 16.1 percent of them, or 239,682, were for the sale or manufacturing of a drug.

The majority of drug arrests in 2015 -- 43.2 percent of them -- were for marijuana, a total of 643,121. Of those, an estimated 574,641 arrests, or 38.6 percent of all drug arrests, were for marijuana possession alone.

The total number of arrests for marijuana offenses was at its lowest level since 1997, almost beating the total from 1996, when there were 641,642 arrests for all marijuana offenses. In fact, there were declines in both possession and sale/manufacture arrests for marijuana offenses in 2015. I mean, that's not really surprising. After all, we now have four states plus the District of Columbia where limited private adult possession and use of marijuana has been legalized.

Beyond that, we're in the middle of a cultural shift in terms of law enforcement: It is becoming less and less acceptable for police to harass young people, people of color, and the poor. It still goes on much too frequently, sometimes with deadly consequences, especially for people of color and the poor. That kind of thing has been business as usual for decades so we're not going to have reforms take hold overnight, but more and more people are paying attention, more and more of us are speaking out, and we're saying clearly and loudly: No more. No more business as usual.

And the good news is, at least when it comes to marijuana, in much of the US, reforms are happening, things are changing. But that's only part of the story.

Arrests involving sale or manufacture of heroin, cocaine, and derivatives showed a steep drop in 2015 compared with recent years, totaling just 81,879 compared with 90,551 the year before. In contrast, arrests for possession of heroin, cocaine, and derivatives rose sharply in 2015 compared with recent years. There were 296,252 arrests in 2015 for simple possession of heroin and cocaine compared with 265,409 in 2014. The period from 2010 through 2014 was an anomaly in terms of arrests for simple possession of those narcotics. In 2009, we made almost as many arrests for cocaine and heroin possession as we did in 2015. In 2008, and for several years before that, the annual number was well over 300,000 arrests for simple possession of those narcotics.

Now, some folks might say, well, we've been hearing for the past few years about a so-called heroin epidemic, so wouldn't an increase in the number of possession arrests be a good thing? And the short answer is no. The increasing use of prescription opioids and of heroin is not new. Law enforcement has been blowing that trumpet for about 15 years now. In the past few years, we started seeing some success in reducing excessive opioid use, partly because of increased access to medical marijuana, partly because we've seen more traditional harm reduction approaches including increased access to naloxone, partly because of increased access to treatment, especially buprenorphine, and partly because of increased education and awareness.

An increasing number of arrests for simple possession, on the other hand, could end up backfiring. Putting people in cages does not stop drug use, it only drives it further underground. We'll talk more about this later. For now, let's get back to the new Uniform Crime Report.

In 2015, the FBI reports that nationally, police made 505,681 arrests for all violent crimes and 1,463,213 arrests for all property offenses. Compared to the previous year, in 2015 there was a slight increase in the number of arrests for violent crime, and a slight decrease in arrests for property crime. The property crime rate in the US last year, at least as far as reported offenses are concerned, was at its lowest in twenty years, dipping to 2,487 reported property crimes per one hundred thousand population. The violent crime rate ticked up very slightly, yet at 372.6 reported offenses per one hundred thousand population, the violent crime rate remains at an historic low.

The really important figure in the annual Uniform Crime Report is clearances. According to the FBI, quote:
"In the UCR Program, a law enforcement agency reports that an offense is cleared by arrest, or solved for crime reporting purposes, when three specific conditions have been met. The three conditions are that at least one person has been:
"Charged with the commission of the offense.
"Turned over to the court for prosecution, whether following arrest, court summons, or police notice.
"In its clearance calculations, the UCR Program counts the number of offenses that are cleared, not the number of persons arrested. The arrest of one person may clear several crimes, and the arrest of many persons may clear only one offense. In addition, some clearances that an agency records in a particular calendar year, such as 2015, may pertain to offenses that occurred in previous years.” End quote.

So that's why clearance is so important. It's one measure of how really effective law enforcement is. What good does it do to make thousands of arrests if we're not actually arresting the people who are committing crimes? Are police trying to arrest criminals, or are they just bringing in the usual suspects and seeing who they can fit up most easily, who do they like the least? I mean, it's no wonder that people lose confidence in the criminal justice system, and lose respect for law enforcement. Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself, that last couple of sentences would only make sense if law enforcement in the US historically has very low clearance rates.

And sadly, that's the case. Less than half of all reported violent offenses are ever cleared by law enforcement, while fewer than one in five property crimes get cleared. And again, crimes are cleared when someone has been charged, regardless of whether or not they're ever found guilty.

The clearance rates for both violent and property crime in 2015 dipped very slightly from the previous year. In 2015, only 46 percent of violent offenses known to police were cleared, and just 19.4 percent of all property offenses known to police were cleared. Many property and even violent crimes go unreported every year, not always because people have no confidence in the police, yet that's the reason in an uncomfortably high number of cases.

Now, as bad as those clearance rates are, this year's is actually about as good as we've ever done. The last time we hit 50 percent clearance on reported violent offenses was in 1999. And again, clearing a crime just means charging someone, it doesn't mean that we actually found the real guilty party.

Property crimes are much less likely to ever be cleared. The 19.4 percent we reached in 2015 was one of our highest annual clearance rates in many years. The peak was 2014, when we actually broke 20 percent – it was 20.2 percent that year. We only hit 19 percent for the first time in 2012. In other words, if you report a property crime in the US, on average there's a less than one in five chance that the police will ever find someone on whom to pin the blame. And if they do, you're not really going to know whether that someone was really the one who ripped you off, or whether it's just some homeless person who was so desperate for shelter and a meal that they were willing to confess to whatever minor offenses the cops were working on that night.

So we have fewer arrests than we've had in many years, and yet, we're clearing a greater number of the reported offenses.

Here's the thing: Most reasonable people want police to go after people who commit violent crimes and acquisitive crimes. Going after the low hanging fruit of simple drug possession offenses is a waste of police time. Drug decriminalization and legalization can make it easier for police to focus on other crimes – they can make it easier, yet there's no guarantee that police will do the right thing.

Clearance rates for violent crime and for property crime are unacceptably low. People will no longer put up with police merely arresting the usual suspects and coercing guilty pleas. That's the real motivation behind drug policy reform and criminal justice reform. We want police to do their jobs – correctly, fairly, without bias, without unnecessary force, all those caveats, but the bottom line is, we want them to do their jobs.

Well, updated statistics, tables, and more are available at DrugWarFacts.org, in particular, I recommend checking out the Crime section for all this UCR data.

You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Nate Howard started a thing called Movement Be. Here he is to tell you about it.

NATE HOWARD: I come from San Diego, California. I love Seattle, I'm glad that I came out here, it's my third time here. But I come from southern California, San Diego. And growing up in San Diego, California, I was always stereotyped. How many of us have ever been stereotyped? Show of hands. Anybody out there in the audience. Okeh. My question now is, how many of us have stereotyped someone? Okeh. So we've been stereotyped, and we have stereotyped other people.

And understanding that, my remedy to fix all of these issues was, I had to write poetry. Poetry became my essence of how I told my story, because it was an opportunity for me to share my story, but also it was therapeutic for me to begin to understand what my story was.

So, in writing my story, I used to write poems, such as:

I'm that type of stereo that booms all the time,
I'm that type of stereo that speaks to your mind,
I'm the stereotype to the eyes that are blind.

Because stereotypes are a major problem in society today
As prejudgements and false rumors conflict our world
As individuals take a soul and grab it,
Take a soul and stab it,
Take a soul and trap it,
In the type of stereo made out of things. Yes.
Yes yes yes yes yes and give me
Yes I'm skinny, yes I'm fat,
Yes I'm white, yes I'm black,
Yes I'm this, yes I'm that.
No, go, 'cause

I'm that type of stereo that booms all the time,
I'm that type of stereo that speaks to your mind,
I'm the stereotype to the eyes that are blind.

Because I'm black I must carry a gun.
Because I'm black, I must be a fatherless son.
Because I'm Mexican, I must live by nothing,
I must get pregnant before I turn 21.
Because I'm that wealthy, I must live like a bum.
Back in high school, 'cause I didn't get a 2400 in the SAT, I must be dumb.
I'm talking about the way I chew my gum.
I'm ignorant because of my household income.
You judge me, I give the second finger from my thumb.
You don't know me or what my life will become.

I'm living my life to the beat of my own drum,
So beat on yours and don't beat on mine, 'cause,

I'm that type of stereo that booms all the time,
I'm that type of stereo that speaks to your mind,
I'm the stereotype to the eyes that are blind.

I'm Asian, so I must get straight "A"s.
I hang out with a lot of girls so I must be gay.
I'm liberal so I must be gay,
'Cause I'm too feminine to be a man I must be gay,
I'm a theater thespian so I must be gay,
I must be a dyke with a harsh word,
But if I am, who are you to judge me
Or what my life is like?

How can your judgements be right?
And maybe they are.
I'm native American, so I must run around a fire
Screaming like a savage.
I'm a guy, so sex I gotta have it.
I'm black, I see a purse, I have to attack it.
I'm Afghan, I see a plane, I have to hijack it.
I'm a cocky varsity guy 'cause I'm wearing a varsity jacket.
I must be ghetto 'cause my poetry's rappin'.
Dreads and braids, I must have AIDS,
Dying early in my grave,
'Cause I was shot ten times,
Dispute with the Bloods and Crips gang, not
Meant to be slain with the stereotypical way.

False judgments make me sick, 'cause
I'm that type of stereo that booms all the time,
I'm that type of stereo that speaks to your mind,
I'm the stereotype to the eyes that are blind.

I'm a redneck, so I love NASCAR.
I'm Cuban, so I love rolling cigars.
I'm rich and white, so I love birdies and pars.
I'm an immigrant so I speak like who I are.
I'm a nerd so I can find symbolism in Harry Potter's scar.
I'm blonde, so I question what is Mars,
And how can the planet Milky Way fit in a candy bar?
Blacks play basketball 'cause they can run, shoot, and steal.
Russians drink vodka and love to kill.
The skate crew are all on drugs and pills,
And the old man at Hooters are trying to cop a feel.

This is not real,
False judgments make me ill, 'cause

I'm that type of stereo that booms all the time,
I'm that type of stereo that speaks to your mind,
I'm the stereotype to the eyes that are blind.

Seattle Hempfest, I speak of new communication. If not we'll die of starvation, and lay in the dust of cremation. We live in a world that revolves and rotates, and look, we need to come together. We need a combination. Lean from different brothers and sisters and conversation for different stylations, for different affiliations, for different languages, for different translations.

We come from one foundation, but from different backgrounds and immigration and oh, plantations, seek out new information instead of using false facts. False facts are what they're talking about, what this whole convening is about. False facts. I speak for new communication, because we are all the stereotypes to the eyes that are blind. Thank you.

So that's what I'm here to talk to you about today. How do we let go of the stereotypes, but also realizing that we're stereotyping the same way? Stereotypes come from something. But what's interesting is, what happens when that stereotype, when that story, begins to affect us? What happened to me, I was a student at USC. I was a first generation college student. And here I am, a student of color, going to a predominantly white institution, trying to figure out where I fit in the whole narrative of where I'm supposed to be, or who I'm supposed to be.

I was throwing an event. A party. The party was registered. We had security. It was organized. Everything was put together. Meanwhile, there's another party going on across the street. Mainly by white partygoers, who are my friends. But they were told to stay in the house and be safe, while they handled us over here. The students of color.

About two o'clock in the morning came, officers came to shut the party down. Seventy-nine LAPD officers showed up to my house. Seventy-nine. They were in riot gear, and they made a barricade on my street, 23rd and Hoover. They began to push members of my party down the street. They took me out to the squad car, put me in handcuffs, as I sat there, trying to understand what was I being arrested for. This was the first time that I realized someone was telling the story for me, and it had huge consequences. Because look, we laugh at stereotypes all the time. But not until they begin locking us up with the stereotypes that society has placed on us, when do we stop laughing? And when do we start looking at stereotypes as an issue that really begins to harm marginalized communities?

When we begin to see it that way, it's so important that you have to have the power to tell your story, as vulnerable and as strong as you can, so that you liberate others and give them the courage to tell their story as well, as we begin to come together, to change the narrative of how they look at us. Of how they see us. Look at Seattle Hempfest here. We know what this community is about. We know it's about love. We know it's about raising awareness of what's really going on, and the issues that we're trying to advocate.

But others may look at it as an -- in another way. Look at those smokers, the potheads, not realizing that what we're really about is advocating an issue that needs to be making policy nationwide, worldwide, so that we can help individuals in these vulnerable, marginalized communities. And the only way we begin to do that is by having the courage to tell our story, and inspire others to tell their story as well.

So when officers arrested me that night, I had two choices. I was angry at the system, but I realized I was swinging at the air because I didn't know what specifically I was going to do. Here they were going to paint me, stereotype me as an angry black man, mad at the police. Well, of course you're mad at the police, you're just young, thug, angry, black man. You're just being angry. You don't have a solution. You don't have a reason to be angry. That's how they were going to paint me. As they did. The story came out, 79 LAPD officers, students of color at USC are mad at the police for having a noise complaint, the party shut down.

Once it got out in the media, everybody now has an opinion. Oh, were they right or were they wrong? And what happens when our story gets out in the media and the narrative begins to change, and then everybody begins to say what they believe.

What I'm challenging us today is to take hold of our narrative. What I'm challenging us today is to realize that we hold the stories. We control the story. We push the story. Thousands of people here, who came here, understand what's happening today. But others are going to manipulate the story and tell something else. That's the importance of telling your story before others tell the story for you.

That's the power in realizing that others are going to take a community, stereotype them, and then use policy with those stereotypes to get other communities to begin to hate and marginalize that community. Because those communities become voiceless, because they didn't have the courage to keep their own story, to hold onto it, to powerfully join together, organize, and realize, nobody can take this story from us, because it is ours, and we, no matter how small, will begin to mobilize and build, by taking more stories and pushing the movement forward by holding onto it ourselves.

That is the importance of telling your story before they do.

So when that incident happened to me at USC, I realized how the media manipulated it, and great, we got coverage, but the coverage was only for that day. And then it died out. And here I'm begging media outlets, other individuals, to tell my story, when I realized I can do it myself. So I came back to San Diego, and I created the program Movement Be, to inspire generations to begin to realize the power of writing their own story.

And we did that through poetry. And in that base of doing what my talent is, I realized the understanding of what purpose is. And I began to teach youth from my community to say, what is your purpose? And your purpose is aligned with your story, and the more that you find your story, and you write it, and you begin to understand it, the more you understand your purpose.

And purpose is this: What is my talent? And how do I use my talent to serve others? What is my talent? And how do I use my talent to serve others? Which allows me to be a voice for myself, liberating other communities to use their voice. When we talk about giving a platform, or giving a voice for the voiceless, what we're really talking about is, how can me, myself, have the courage to say, look, this is what I've been dealing with. These are the issues that are happening in my life. I know it's not perfect. I'm still trying to figure it out. I'm still struggling. But the more I'm open about it, I liberate and help other people identify their story as well.

And in that power, they begin to tell their story, and then they begin to help and liberate those other people as well. And then that common ground that we all share is that we all have these unique stories, and these unique stories that come from a community that story hasn't been told, whose story hasn't been -- been manipulated, and been made profitable, really begins to see that the power in that can really begin to make change.

That's when I began to write this poem that says:

Stop the propaganda,
There is no message,
Only economics dictating politics
In artificial progress made positive.
This is not your favorite reality show.
In the words of Gil Scott Heron,
The revolution will not be televised.

I am not a social construct,
I don't believe in some of this hierarchy,
Authority only made me obedient
To a structure that never leveled me equal.

I'm the rebel without a cause,
'cause I never needed a reason
To fight for basic human rights.

So don't call me an activist
I'm not here for your praise
Or for you to appropriate my words
And make appropriate
For girls of low self esteem
Capitalist prism,
Note the prison industry
Is your biggest investment.

Don't dismiss the fact that
There are more blacks in prison
Than enslaved in 1850.
And that the war on drugs
Created the war on education.
We give more sentences
Than actually teach them,
And give hope for great careers,
As if everyone has an equal opportunity
To achieve them.

I'm hungry for success
But I live in a food desert,
Where Jack In The Box,
Tacos, Big Macs, and Taco Bell,
Nachos, cornered by liquor stores,
Drunk on your lies,
Starving on the truth,
Throwing up on the contradiction
On why I became so inferior to you.

Stop the propaganda,
There is no message,
Only economics dictating politics,
And artificial progress made positive.
This is not your favorite reality show, the
Revolution will not be televised.
Rewind to the time when
The force is strong as the Haitian revolution.
Rewind to the time when
Nat Turner led a slave revolt, 1841, the
Narrative of Frederick Douglass, the narrative of
Sojourner Truth, and
Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, with the
Power, speak your truth. Show the
Youth that 1921, Tulsa Oklahoma was the
Epicenter of black business and expansion before the
KKK looted and burned
Every home and business,
Destroyed and killed every potential of the city,
Celebrated the lynching of another brother,
God, I called that, Dred Scott.
'Cause all people like me
Will never be free.
Course over time, the affirmative action to attain a degree
I got my bachelors but I've been working for my master since
1853. I am Maya Angelou's caged bird.
I am Tupac Shakur's concrete rose, I am the
Black Jesus with the Malcolm X soul, played by
Sidney Poitier in a Denzel role, and win an
Oscar for Oscar Grant, for all the fathers
Gun violence stole, of the revolution, let the
Poetry unfold.
So that the music speaks of a soul unsold.
A soul unsold, because the
Time is now
To stop the propaganda,
There is no message, only
Economics dictating politics, and
Artificial progress made positive.
This is not your favorite reality show.
The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will be internalized,
And it starts
With you.

Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Nate Howard, founder of Movement Be. You can find out more about it at MovementBe.org, that's movementbe.org.

Well, for now, that's all the time we have. Thank you for joining us. You've been listening to Century Of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.