09/09/12 Jim Gierach

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Caravan for Peace VII: Chicago city hall press conference re drug prohibition with Fmr. Chicago drug prosecutor James Gierach, fmr L.A. deputy police chief Steve Downing + Javier Secilia leader of Caravan

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / September 9, 2012


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Once again this week we’re reporting on the progress of the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity as we travel across America trying to alert, inform and motivate people to change these horrible drug laws, to recognize the horrors they inflict not only in the United States but in the nation of Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and throughout Central and South America.

The following was recorded in City Hall Chicago, Illinois.


JAMES GIERACH: My name is Jim Gierach. I am here on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We are here to welcome the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity to Chicago. We are here to welcome Javier Sicilia who lost his son in the War on Drugs in Mexico along with 60,000 other people who have lost their lives in this insane prohibition which is taken over Mexico, taken over the United States and the world.

We are here to call for an end to the War on Drugs which is public enemy number one - the most effective way to put more drugs uncontrolled and unregulated everywhere. We assemble here in the home of Al Capone, the capital of prohibition in the United States. We are now replicating what we once did with alcohol and it is causing the same problems. Instead of hanging off of Packards and shootings Tommy Guns because of the prohibition of liquor today we’re hanging outside of SUVs doing drive-bys with AK47s – killing people left and right, filling our prisons to the point where we can’t pay for school, transforming the United States from the land of the free to the prison capital of the world with the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world.

Javier does not come to Chicago alone. He comes with over 100 people from Mexico who have lost members of their family in this crazy War on Drugs. People who are killed horrendously, people who are missing, people decapitated and every type of misery we can see. We will hear from Theresa in a little bit who lost her son in Mexico in the War on Drugs.

This call for an end to the War on Drugs, to an end of the assault weapons, for the return of peace in our communities is not supported by radicals and drug users. Drugs are bad but the War on Drugs is worse. The War on Drugs makes dangerous substances uncontrolled and unregulated because the irony of prohibition is that when you prohibit something you give up the right to control and regulate it.

Today we have with us the former Deputy Chief of Los Angeles who for 20 years was the head of the Narcotics Unit of the Los Angeles Police Department. His name is Steve Downing. He is a board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. At this time it is my privilege to introduce to you Steve Downing. Welcome, Steve.

STEVE DOWNING: As a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition we have joined with Javier’s caravan across the United States. We met them at the border with what we call our LEAP mobile and we are continuing with this incredible, courageous group of people across the United States and hope when we get to Washington, D.C. this message will have been heard loud and clear.

I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a son. I have a son. I have two daughters. I have six grandchildren. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose any of them. We read the newspapers. We see the television programs and we hear the numbers – 60,000 murdered in Mexico. We see the numbers – 20,000 disappeared in Mexico. But what we don’t see is the pain and what these people on the caravan are bringing to the United States is their pain and their stories so that Americans can pierce that bubble and understand what it means when all of your family is in danger, when you lose people close to you.

They have to understand that in this country because it is here. It has begun here. The cartels today occupy and control the drug traffic in 1,000 American cities. Last week in this city, Chicago, the Police Superintendent made a press release and they had a “show and tell” – guns and dope and they announced 300 arrests after 22 young people wounded and quite a number dead. This occurs week after week, month after month.

I began as a Street Commander when President Nixon announced the War on Drugs. I took charge of the Los Angeles police department’s narcotic enforcement effort. I helped the DEA begin their new task across the country. I helped build intelligent systems. I deployed troops.

Our strategy at the time, the federal strategy and the local strategy, was to cut the head off the snake and kill the organizations. It was to reduce the flow of drugs into this country. And it was to reduce drug addiction.

I had “show and tells” weekly and monthly just like they had here in Chicago last week. I started with a couple kilos and a few handguns and maybe a couple thousand dollars put on the table and I bragged about those maybe 5 or 10 arrests. A few months later – 2 or 3 kilos, maybe 10,000 dollars. Today it’s warehouses full of narcotics, it’s pallets stacked with millions of dollars in cash and it’s tens of thousands of war-level weapons.

Every single method used to measure success in the War on Drugs is an indication of its failure – of its total failure. We have been at it for 40 years and all we have done is increase the violence and the crime in this country.

So I say to you anyone who supports the War on Drugs, anyone who supports the continued prohibition in this country does not support public safety. If you support the War on Drugs you do not support public safety.

We need to dry up the cartels. We tried to cut off the head of the snake but we discovered it was not a snake. My analogy is we were dealing with starfish. You cut them in half and you got two. You cut them in quarters and you got eight. Because the money is so great they always fill the vacuum.

You will never start an end to this war until you end the nutrients from the starfish and the nutrients for the cartels and the street gangs is money. The government needs to take charge of that market and regulate and control that market, eliminate the black market.

You have never heard of someone pushing Jack Daniels on the school ground because alcohol is regulated and controlled. You have never heard of Coors and Miller distributors shooting it out on the street because if they have a territorial dispute they go to court.

My last word – pass the message of pain that is being brought to the United States by this caravan and recognize that if anybody in a leadership position supports the War on Drugs they do not support public safety.

Thank you.


DEAN BECKER: At this point Jim Gierach, the former Chicago drug prosecutor stepped up to the mic to fill us in a bit more about his experience.


JAMES GIERACH: As further information on my background – in 1970s I was a drug prosecutor in Chicago. I was a homicide prosecutor at 26 in California. At that time the War on Drugs had just been declared by President Nixon in 1971. At the time that I prosecuted drug cases in Chicago the best heroin you could get was 2% pure. Jump forward 40 years. The War on Drugs has now put 90% pure heroin which can be bought on the West side of the city of Chicago for nickel bags and dime bags.

I come from a southwestern, suburban, well to do area. In the high school district where the kids in my neighborhood go to school we have heroin in the high schools. We have heroin in Richards, heroin at Andrew High School, heroin at Stanford.

The War on Drugs is the most effective way to put uncontrolled, unregulated drugs everywhere including the most pernicious of them – that being heroin.

We said we’re going to get tough and we’re not even going to allow medical marijuana for people who are sick. 17 states across the nation have done that. And they have legalized drugs for people who are sick by prescriptions. The Illinois General Assembly has yet to do that.

But why we here in Illinois deny people who are in pain medical marijuana a Mexican drug cartel comes to 123 rd and La Grange Road and plants 6,000 marijuana plants in the country forest district. How does it help our kids to put 6,000 marijuana plants right in the heart of our backyard? The same kind of seizure happened in the Guiness Woods up on the north side – 4,000 plants seized at one time.

The point is the War on Drugs doesn’t accomplish its purpose of saving the kids but, in fact, puts more drugs everywhere.

Secondly, the War on Drugs is the heart of nearly any crisis you can name and that we care about and hold press conferences about. The guns, the gangs, the crime, the prisons, the taxes, the deficits, the AIDS, the inability to afford health care, the kids overdosing on substances which they don’t know what they are or how strong they are even if they bought it at the same corner because it’s illegal.

We end up corrupted the kids and telling them, “You’re going to tell us who sold you these drugs or you’re going to prison forever.” Taking the last bit of human decency out of these kids. Teaching them to forgo the Golden Rule – save yourself, sacrifice someone else.

The War on Drugs effortlessly impacts the trade imbalance in the United States as we import drugs from elsewhere and end up shipping our money to other countries. We fund terrorism because of the War on Drugs. Bin Laden made his money in the War on Drugs.

It’s time to end that foolishness and it’s time to put in your heart what is in mine and what is in Theresa Carmones. Theresa, do you want to come up here? Theresa is one of the victims’ family members who is traveling from Mexico and we welcome you to Chicago and we’re so sorry for your loss.

THERESA CARMONES: I sat here in the spirit of kindness and respect in order to share my insight so we can make the best decisions for the benefit of the people of the United States and the people of Mexico.

My name is Theresa Carmones. As of August 7, 2010 I became an activist for peace. On this day, Jaki, my 21-year-old son who’s in this picture, was brutally murdered with absolute impunity.

Having lost my first born to this stupid war my only weapon is my pain, my broken heart and my love. All of this I decided for my two other children and for everybody else’s children.

As a girl and as a young woman I lived in a fantastic country where fear was not pervasive. But today we live in fear all the time. This epidemic is spreading to the United States.

This fear/violence cycle is a vicious one. It has put us in a state of war and it is not with military might but with the practice of looking deeply into the human condition that terrorism and organized crime will be ended.

USA to Mexico and South America is not working to build peace. It is building brutality and human rights violations. I appeal to all of you to debate the so-called War on Drugs and how and why it has failed and is destroying us all.

Statistics show how drug abuse is on the rise as is criminality. The drug business is thriving as ever before. We must develop bi-national peace and solidarity to stop this atrocious war.

Drugs are not the problem. Prohibition policies are the problem.

Migrants are not the problem. Migration policies are the problem.

We share a 2,000 mile long border. Tons of drugs constantly enter the U.S. already. Hundreds of thousands of migrants from Central America and Mexico enter the U.S. through it. As well, millions of dollars, the profit of drug trafficking, flow to Mexico from the U.S. to be laundered. This is not a crime without victims. Hundreds of thousands of guns and assault weapons are smuggled into Mexico. They are killing our people – mostly our youth.

According to National Statistics for Geography and Technologies the number of assassinations in the past five years is 95,000. Mexico is being devastated by wrong views and the interest of the powerful few. The rate of impunity of the crimes committed in Mexico is of a shameful 97%.

Rampant corruption is the key to rampant organized crime. Street poverty, lack of effective social programs and utter despise for the original people and their land, poor employment policies and abandoned youth who have lost their ground let alone it’s north. Corrupt mass media and corruption, corruption and more corruption among others are a part of the roots of our problems.

Our aspiration is to uproot violence by using the forces of understanding, compassion and reconciliation – all of which must be reflected in humane and health-orientated alternatives to prohibition, in more effective, non-violent security strategies, in a truly humane immigration policy and by national respect for justice and human dignity.

Just like this Caravan for Peace words may travel for thousands of miles. May our words create mutual understanding and love. May we all honor our humanity.

Thank you.


DEAN BECKER: Next we hear from Javier Sicilia, the leader of the Caravan for Peace. He’s speaking in City Hall, Chicago, Illinois.


JAVIER SICILIA: [via interpreter] Thank you very much for the microphone. I have been using my voice quite a bit. Thank you Chicago. Thank you to all the organizations in the United States that have been supporting the caravan. Without all these organizations it would have been impossible to be here in this act of building fraternity.

It’s very difficult to add to what those before me have already said. They really seemed to cover all the main points.

But I think to correct the current situation we need to look in the mirror at the past which is not something that is done very often in these modern times. I would like to look back into that mirror to take a look at the present moment.

I’d like to look back to the 1920s, 1933 right here in Chicago. James already mentioned that the 1920 prohibition on alcohol. Chicago’s implementation of the prohibition at that time – Al Capone and violence for which Chicago became known for at that time.

During that decade there was very poor alcohol. It would lead people to become blind or to die or to go crazy if they consumed it. It was Ness’s policy which was to go after the Mafia. What that policy led to was the proliferation of the Mafia – diversification of crime, corruption of authorities, rotting of the youth, violence in the streets, lack of security, assorted money laundering which was a form tax evasion because these were illegal activities.

The United States went through13 years of hell because of prohibition. 13 years in which many people were killed and where the United States was on the verge of losing democracy and seeing its social fabric going under. 80 years later with drug prohibition this phenoninum is being reproduced but even more brutally and on an international scale. And just what I said about looking in the mirror to the past and looking at it to understand the present.

Looking at that mirror of the past if we go back to 1933, President Roosevelt took decisive action that saved the country. He abolished the prohibition of alcohol submitting it to the iron-clad clause of the state and the market. He limited the expansion of the mafias and limited the possibilities of corruption of the authorities.

It is high time to use that on the War on Drugs, a war that has caused so much death, so much pain, so much destruction. It is time to legalize and regulate drugs as was done with alcohol in 1930.

This is one of the things that needs to be done. Bringing the weapons trade under control is another and money laundering as well which is needed in order for there to be peace and to save lives. We have to work together – people of the United States and Mexico. If you don’t assume the responsibility then it’s up to you as we have taken on this responsibility then this war is going to consume all of us.

With these policies we are opening up the doors of barbarity which is state violence and criminal violence. In doing so we are going to lose democracy, civil rights and freedoms. It is time to put an end to that war. It is time that we sit down and have an open dialogue with everyone to find this road to peace. To sit down with you at the kitchen table – so to speak – to see how we can achieve peace.

If you don’t do this then we are going to be alone and you will become accomplices of the crime that continues in the United States and in Mexico. I would like to end as I have ever since we began this movement in the wake of the murder of my son.

This is a paraphrase of the words of Colonel Greck who, in turn, is citing the words of a German pastor and it’s an appeal to the people of the United States:

They came for the Colombians and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t a Colombian. They came for the blacks and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t black. They came for Mexicans and I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t Mexican. And then they came for me and I didn’t have anything to say because there was nobody around to speak up for democracy and for human life.

Today it is time that we stop this war that has resulted in the irradic policies of our governments because tomorrow will be too late.

Thank you.


DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Javier Sicilia, leader of the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity, speaking at City Hall, Chicago, Illinois.

Here to close out today’s Cultural Baggage we have the thoughts of one of my band of brothers in Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – Mr. Jim Gierach, a former drug prosecutor in Chicago.


JAMES GIERACH: It is not only Mexico. It is not only the United States that is suffering the brunt of the War on Drugs. It is the entire world. Whether you’re in Indonesia where they give you the death penalty for the smallest quantities of drugs or the United States where we incarcerate more than any others – particularly black and minorities – it’s everywhere in the world.

The United Nations put in place three prohibition treaties that requires all the member nations to go back to their states and criminalize the drugs that are listed in those treaties. So the fountain head is the United Nations. It is up to us, as citizens, to demand our politicians call for an end to the War on Drugs.


DEAN BECKER: I’ve got to agree with Jim that it is the United Nations in the Single Convention Treaty on Drugs which pushes this war onto the whole world but I would add that it is the United States that pushes the United Nations to do so. It’s “plato o plumo” – take the silver or the lead. That is the eternal will of these United States.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.


SPEAKER: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice!

SPEAKER: When do we want it?


SPEAKER: What do we want?

CROWD: Justice!

SPEAKER: When do we want it?



Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org