06/17/20 Eric Sterling
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Criminal Justice Policy Foundation
Eric Sterling founder of Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Helen Clark former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Ruth Dreifuss former President of Switzerland + Drug Truth Network editorial
DEAN BECKER: (00:01)
I am Dean Becker. Your host, our goal with this program is to expose the fraud misdirection and the liars whose support for drug war empowers our terrorist enemies and riches Barbara's cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent knew as gangs, who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is cultural baggage
DEAN BECKER: (00:30)
Later in the show. We'll hear more from the global commission on drugs. We'll have a drug truth network editorial, but first my interview with Eric Sterling, you know, folks, it seems like the whole nation has a bad case of indigestion, of all kinds of thoughts and considerations. Uh, we've got the COVID-19, we've got the racial bigotry and much more that's, uh, stirring up things, so to speak well here to, uh, help, um, bring a little clarity to this, wanting to invite the executive director of the criminal justice foundation, mr. Eric Sterling, to join the discussion. Hello, Eric Dean.
ERIC STERLING: (01:09)
How are you?
DEAN BECKER: (01:10)
I I'm. Well, would you agree? There's no national indigestion, a lot of stuff going on right now. Right?
ERIC STERLING: (01:19)
I wouldn't call it indigestion. I, there is, it's more like a fever in which the stresses of both see the coronavirus pandemic, the economic uncertainty, and then the indescribable horror of the murder of George Floyd all have combined two in the last two weeks create an incredible national reawakening of conscience.
DEAN BECKER: (02:05)
Well, I thank you for, yeah. Better than indigestion, I think. Uh, and, and look, Eric, the heck of it is, is that, uh, what happened to George Floyd? Um, it's still happening. It happened just the other day at a Wendy's where a man fell asleep in a parking lot and then was shot in the back for the crime of sleeping. I guess. I, I, your thought there please.
ERIC STERLING: (02:37)
Words like most recent only stand for a few minutes in this context, the most recent killing of a black man by a police officer in Atlanta is part of the dehumanization that exists in police training and in police sinking about the people that they encounter and people of color, especially these are, these are, these are over and over and over again, situations that don't require violence, but are escalated by the police training by the police culture, into conflicts in which police create the circumstances in which they become afraid or become, uh, motivated to exercise. And the words of president Trump dominate the space leading to leading to what becomes indiscriminate violence. And so we're seeing this not only in these gruesome fatalities, but we see them in scores of people being named crippled, blinded by the firing of supposedly nonlethal weapons into crowds, um, as a police response to protest,
DEAN BECKER: (04:15)
It makes me cry. I'll be honest with you. I feel like I'm seeing so much of the, the America that I grew up in, uh, just kind of disappearing in that midst of tear gas, et cetera
ERIC STERLING: (04:30)
Challenge is, is, you know, what, what gets done about it and, and the, what that has to be done at many different levels. Certainly within police departments, as they are currently operating chiefs and their line command right down to the field level, have to create new structures of accountability. They have to be much more clear about what is tolerable, but a broader question is being raised, which is
ERIC STERLING: (05:09)
In under the rubric defund police. What are the scope of police responsibilities? How many police should there be? How are we asking police to undertake, uh, responses to conflict and to, um, crisis? And it sending armed men to situations of crisis may be completely the wrong approach and that we are, um, and that we are spending much too much money on that. And that, that when people call nine one, one looking for help, perhaps the first people should be dispatched might be a grandmother who comes to ask are everybody's needs being met here. Does the baby have diapers? Is there food in the refrigerator? Does grandpa have his medicine?
ERIC STERLING: (06:18)
Do we, do we have running water? Is there heat the levels at which people are distressed are so profound? The man with the gun is not the man who can address these problems most, uh, most lovingly and most carefully can. Of course you have still broader question of the historic economic depredation against people of color, going back to slavery through Jim Crow, through the war on drugs, through mass incarceration. So through real estate segregation, school segregation, um, we are only at the early stages of beginning to figure out what the program of reparations that is required is going to actually look like America has a very strong conscience, even one sense. This is demonstrated by in the last two weeks, this extraordinarily remarkable outpouring of concern about the killing of George Floyd and all that it stands for. And that corporate America, political leadership people, black and white, young and old in the streets in hundreds and hundreds of locations around the country.
ERIC STERLING: (08:11)
This is the, the way in which violence was so quickly suppressed by the protesters themselves, not the national guard, not the police, but the, but the community coming out and stopping those who attempted to engage in violence. There were, we're really witnessing a very, very different kind of reaction that we'd seen and the public aid, large numbers supportive of the protestors supporters of justice, supportive of the legalization of marijuana, ending mass incarceration of supporting, uh, that, uh, same sex marriage supporting, uh, prohibition on discrimination against, um, uh, men and women were transgender. And G D the country is changing for, uh, in front of our eyes to support justice and to support humanity. The fact is is that you don't need a lot of people to appear, to be haters, to get the impression that hate is widespread. The news media always gravitates on the most extreme kinds of behavior.
ERIC STERLING: (09:44)
If, if there is a fire set, if there are broken windows, that's what they'll show. If there are a hundred people sitting in a legislative hearing room to support legalization of now on, uh, the photograph will show the two men with the longest hair on the Scragglys beards and, um, the most, um, flamboyant tie dye clothing, because it is, it is the extreme that the news media is drawn to. Um, and so the nation's discussion calling for justice is loud, but that the smaller voices repeating the calls for hatred are amplified in the news media, as far as Donald Trump, because he's out of step he's out of step with the American people. And that's very clear in the poll.
DEAN BECKER: (10:51)
Yeah, well, Eric, I want to throw in a couple of thoughts here. One is, um, and then I wanna address something. We were talking about the gentleman that was shot there in the Wendy's parking lot. The police were just paranoid. And if I dare say delusional, they had his car, his keys, his phone, his, his ID, uh, and that the only charge was perhaps being drunk in public. And yet they thought it necessary to shoot him in the back. I, the logic or the, the mindset there just, it baffles me your response to that thought, Eric. Okay.
ERIC STERLING: (11:25)
The shooting of a reportedly is because I think it's, I think the man's name was Brooks. Thank you. Yes. Um, mr. Brooks had in the response to the police conduct had grabbed a taser. And so the police believed it in some way, he was armed with a nonlethal weapon, but he was escaping that even if armed with the taser, even if he's pointing the taser, the proper police response would have been tobacco away not to, not to discharge firearms, not to use lethal force. This is an episode that is so filled with, um, improper procedures, improper training. This is a circumstance in which a lethal outcome is wholly unwarranted, but what we see over and over again is that provocative behavior by the police, the way in which they are trained to interrogate and dominate and use force leads people to very naturally resist. What are often such humiliating and unjust circumstances,
DEAN BECKER: (12:59)
Fight or flight,
ERIC STERLING: (13:00)
We would expect any person of character to say, you're treating me unjustly. And that the idea that we suppress these human or this, or perhaps these male responses, because the person standing in front of us is wearing a badge and a uniform and is armed expects too much.
DEAN BECKER: (13:32)
Uh, just last month, the global commission on drugs, that's a gathering of current and former world leaders who band together. And they're, they're calling for defunding the drug war in total to, uh, go after only the top players, the cartel leaders, I suppose. But it brings to mind that the drug war started was based in blatant open racism. And it continues to this day where those who are stopped, those who are searched, those who are arrested, those who are jailed and prosecuted, the black and Hispanic communities are the ones who bear the full brunt of this being arrested and impacted several times that of the white community. Uh, and I, I feel, I don't know, inept somehow that I cannot bring the focus to bear on this situation, that by ending the drug war, we will stop much of the racist, uh, uh, ramifications if you will. And we will have a better United States. Your thought they're pleased
ERIC STERLING: (14:40)
Is this question involves many levels of analysis. Drug prohibition rises out of alcohol prohibition. Alcohol prohibition beginning early in the 19th century is a response to public drunkenness by Irish immigrants, Roman Catholic, who offended the sensibilities of Yankees and, uh, property owners who were primarily Protestant. And it was a tool of social control and it would be adopted. And then it would be defeated. African Americans were already under the thumb of slavery drug and alcohol prohibition were not necessary in a pre emancipation in America, in the 1870s and eighties, eighties as Chinese immigrants come to America to work in mines in the timbering. And in other activities, they are controlled by the U S in the introduction of the opium laws, the anti opiate laws, opium, smoking prohibition opium, den prohibition in the early 20th century, as the effort to align the United States with international anti opium trade laws reveals that the United States doesn't have at the federal level anti-narcotics laws.
ERIC STERLING: (16:23)
That effort initially fails in the Congress in the period 1910 to 1912, because it's perceived by Southern Democrats as an expansion of federal power and harkens back to, um, the, the ant is the anti federal approach that, uh, Southern Democrats had taken. And so the strategy becomes very explicitly to link the need for control of narcotics. With the creation of them is solid GS, that it is the coconut Negro responsible for the rape of white women in the South. And upon that kind of narrative, the house, the narcotics act, the first federal narcotics prohibition is enacted in 1914 under the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who was a racist raised in, uh, in Virginia, that kind of narrative carries forward. And it's in the control of marijuana is around fears of Hispanics, Mexican Americans working as farm laborers. When what my internal migrants in the United States are fleeing the dust bowl during the depression in the Midwest, and going to California where Mexican Americans have worked in, uh, the agricultural trade agricultural labor.
ERIC STERLING: (18:04)
And so narrow marijuana prohibition, uh, in both economic terms and the cultural terms that marijuana is also associated with jazz musicians and blacks lack nails, having sex with white women, these kinds of racist appeals are central to the way in which federal drug laws are created. These things are repeated again in the 1960s and seventies, the repeated again in the 1980s around crack cocaine. Um, and these continue even into the current time, it's critical to understand this, this history, um, the other piece of it from the standpoint of, of crime, and you alluded to this in terms of the role of cartels. You said the illegality of drugs creates enormous criminal opportunities for, for the production and sale of the drugs. These are activities which involving huge sums of cash require protection. There's no illegal nonviolent dispute resolution mechanism available. None of the kinds of legal forms of business competition that exist around brand identification or advertising or product quality or control, none of this exists.
ERIC STERLING: (19:33)
So that the violence that we see at the cartel level makes this trade a plague in Mexico, central America, Bolivia, Colombia, and so forth globally. So the failure to look at these problems logically, but to look at them irrationally and out of the, the, the outmoded, uh, uh, ideas. This is addiction and addiction is in slavery, and we can stop people from being addicted. If we stop the supply at the source of all of this kind of law enforcement rhetoric, none of it makes sense, and we are, and this is again a case with tragedy. And in this case, the explosion of opioid related deaths in the United States is forcing a reevaluation of how we understand this problem and how we respond to it, because this is the silver lining in this very dark cloud of these tragedies.
DEAN BECKER: (20:37)
Uh, yeah. Um, well friends, once again, been speaking with mr. Eric Sterling, he's the executive director of the criminal justice policy foundation. And I do need to correct you, which is that as of the end of may, I have retired as executive director. So I'm the former executive director of the criminal justice policy foundation will. All right. I thank you for the update, but just the same, a, a great friend of the drug truth network for well decades now. Uh, I want to thank you, mr. Eric Sterling. Thank you, . Keep up the good work.
DEAN BECKER: (21:12)
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DEAN BECKER: (21:34)
As we tend to wrap things up, I've been talking about the global commission on drugs report. Here's a little segment from there. A video release, the moderator is Mark Shaw.
MARK SHAW: (21:45)
Well, what I see a significant about the report telling is that it makes the same set of powerful recommendations around a health response to drug use, but it also significantly in module four, the commission focuses on the organized crime elites, the term that the report uses, how can, how can we, as a global community respond to that?
DEAN BECKER: (22:08)
He's addressing his question to Helen Clark, the former prime minister of New Zealand.
HELEN CLARK: (22:14)
If we look at crime in general, there are always social and economic determinants to it. And sometimes we see countries putting enormous emphasis on fighting crime without looking at what are some of the drivers? Is it poverty? Is it marginalization? Is it school dropouts? It's also about a broader social determinants approach. And I think the commission has long been an advocate with drug policy of saying, look at the social determinants, look at the real issues. Look at the classification and a number of these things like cannabis, relatively harmless. Anyway, when compared with legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol, in other words, could we have a real discussion? He had not one driven by a simple ideology, uh, that, uh, drugs are bad. Every criminal is quite a bad person. When we know all from our personal experiences of people who have ended up as criminals, it could have had a different path. I'd like to see a scientific and pragmatic approach and approach, which isn't based on repression,
MARK SHAW: (23:31)
If you were saying, uh, as I recall, which I think is an important point that people fear mixing the levels. So they want to talk about decriminalization. They don't feel they have the necessary
DEAN BECKER: (23:45)
At the elite criminal level. So they, they nervous all of this on bridging this gap. I suppose, the Ruth that he is speaking to is Ruth Dreifuss, the former president of Switzerland.
RUTH DREIFUSS: (23:58)
Yes. What is dramatically lacking in the current drug policy is coherence. And what we try to bring in the debate is really a search for coherent policy. And this means that we have really on the different level to show the links between these different levels to show that, uh, the criminalization at the bottom is an up cycle to all the measures we want to have on the health, uh, issue on the development issue on the social integration issue. But we have also to show that, uh, uh, abandoning the market in criminal hands has also terrible consequences for the people. Why is the drug of the black market, a market where you find the fake products, there is dangerous products? Why is it that, for instance, if you increase the pressure, uh, at the bottom of the pyramid, you will have products that are more than dressed, uh, than they were at the beginning. All these consequences of this global picture. I would say, what we need is coherence in this policy to bring together justice development has, um, uh, security and so many other things, the protection of children, the protection, special protection of women, all this is a catched by a failed drug policy. And we have to bring all these pieces together.
DEAN BECKER: (25:43)
This is a drug truth network. Editorial, Joe Biden should join the dozens of world leaders who embrace the end of drug war, whose global commission released a report last month, calling for legalizing drugs, featuring prestigious world leaders, such as Ruth Dreifuss to former president of Switzerland, Louise Arbor, former high commissioner on human rights, a man who knows full well, the need to defund the cartels. Juan Manuel Santos, the former president of Colombia, Helen Clark, former prime minister of New Zealand, and a non Grover. The UN special re-up our tour on right to health ending prohibition immediately takes away massive profits of criminals, as well as changing the drug war mentality of cops, their racist attitudes, their SWAT teams. There are no knock raids. They're rushed to judgment and to firepower or brutality. We must do away with a Pell Mell drug war mindset. Now part and parcel of our current law enforcement system, which affects all our lives.
DEAN BECKER: (26:58)
It is obvious glaring that the drug war has no benefit, no moral standing at all until we stop our insane belief in drug prohibition, we will never actually control the supposedly controlled substances. Criminals will continue to make their half trillion dollars per year and use half that amount to corrupt our law enforcement border guards, politicians, and the media to ensure their trade lasts forever. Tens of thousands of our children will die. Needlessly. Every year, jails will remain stuffed Joe and Jolene citizen will remain hunkered down, trapped by the orthodoxy of this quasi religion of drug war. Afraid to speak about the obvious for fear of being ostracized, racist perspectives on drugs will continue to be the main focus of law enforcement and the madness and mayhem of it all will be used as justification for doing more of the same forever and ever the racism and evil of the drug war is playing out sky high on a daily basis, all around our nation.
DEAN BECKER: (28:13)
And yet, so few dare to look, speak, or act to expose and end this stupid and evil policy, no matter how many lefties and liberals proclaim themselves, bigotry free, they must realize racism lives large inside belief in drug war. So few people care, not even within communities of color, editorial is over, but I realize I may have overstated things, me being a white man and all. And if so, please email meDean@drugtruth.net. But my experience tells me otherwise sure, hoping that you'll do your part to end this madness. And again, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.