Tag Archives: Drugs

The Opiod Crisis: Now It’s A State Of Emergency

12208279_10206478427777483_610893809594429317_nThere was a long held belief concerning the war on drugs was to arrest more people and lock them up using some draconian – long sentence – when it was about black people. This was dangerously unfair because it has been proven that they were supplying the heroin and crack to our communities and they did nothing. Today there has been a major shift – white people are the ones addicted. So you see what they did to black people has come home to roast – and now they call it an epidemic!

A White House task force recommended the president take “urgent” action to stem overdose deaths. It was reported that 45 is treating it as an emergency – just without an official emergency declaration, which could provide additional government resources which did not include a jail. The opioid crisis differs from national emergencies that typically follow infectious disease outbreaks or natural disasters for a set period of time. The opiod problem is about white people. However, it was not a problem when black people were addicted and dying.

The task force largely encourages a public health approach to the epidemic. The report urged Trump to broaden treatment availability by supporting the elimination of a Medicaid provision that prohibits federal money from going to residential mental health and substance-use facilities.

We all remember the devastation of the crack epidemic and the crippling heroin crisis in the black community and no one came to offer resources for treatment or recovery – but more drugs were always en-route. We know the war on drugs was created and directed a black people but today it’s a big issue and white people have so much sympathy. However, there was no sympathy for black people suffering – therefore I have no sympathy for them! And that’s my thought provoking perspectives…


Stop The War On Drugs

2I think everyone in America knows someone with a drug problem or who uses drugs; either for recreational use or the result of addiction. It has been the government’s position that the solution is to lock people up for either discretion. Mind you, this is not done for national security or the safety of the individual; it is all about “The Benjamin.” I can remember when Reagan and his cronies inserted crack into black communities and in the seventies there was no effort to stop those who made money off of the misery of black people being addicted to heroin. Places like New York’s Harlem. Now that white folk are dying of overdoses – it is a problem!

The drug war’s conception was nothing but a clever scheme to have a system where they get paid from all ends. Let’s be frank, if they wanted the drug problem to cease – they could do it, but it would cost trillions of dollars by eliminating the apparatus in place for those fighting it, who would instantly become unemployed; like judges, police lawyers, prisons, and those who work for agencies created to make money from the so-called fight on the drug war.

Let me say this off the top – not one Negro in any urban area brings a single joint, ounce, or drop of anything into America. Yet, these are the people who fill the jails and prisons, by and large, serving long sentences. It has been reported and known that the government has been involved in bringing drugs into our neighborhood or at least responsible for the protection that allowed them to plant the drugs our communities. To that point, they were caught through their involvement with Iran-Contra!

Let’s call it what is – “Retroactive Abortion”! For example, if a million black men are incarcerated, two things happen. First, the offender will usually lose their right to vote. Secondly, if you take a million incarcerated black men and each of them could have on average three children, this would eliminate, based on this count, three million black people from existence, and this means removing millions voters.

They have appointed drug czars to be the general in this war. One publicly admitted that locking people up won’t keep anyone from using drugs, but stopped short of renouncing punitive policies that have made America’s long war on drugs widely unpopular. This official said, in a post on the White House website that the government’s new drug control strategy “rejects the notion that we can arrest and incarcerate our way out of the nation’s drug problem. Instead, it builds on decades of research demonstrating that while law enforcement should always remain a vital piece to protecting public safety, addiction is a brain disorder — one that can be prevented and treated, and from which people recover.”

It’s a striking piece of rhetoric, though not a risky one, given that about three quarters of Americans say the war on drugs has been a failure. My question is; did it really take nearly a half a century to figure this out? According to the new strategy, it calls for reforms that would move the government’s drug-control efforts from the police precinct and courtroom to the treatment center. In other words, they now support “alternatives to incarceration,” like drug courts, where judges can send defendants to rehabilitation clinics instead of prison. Could this be because white people are using drugs at an alarming rate?

Of course, there are some advocates for drug policy reforms who say the efforts don’t go far enough pointing to the government’s continuing commitment to the strong-armed tactics of the drug war, like cracking down on drug smugglers in the Caribbean, working with the Colombian government to wipe out coca crops, and shutting down domestic meth labs.

In 2012, about 750,000 people were arrested for marijuana-related offenses — more than one arrest per minute, according to FBI data. Blacks are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, according to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union. Government officials “completely fail to acknowledge” that replacing marijuana prohibition with a regulated system would essentially eliminate illegal pot cultivation and the report barely mentions the legalization of marijuana by voters in Colorado and Washington state. A day after Washington opened its first legal pot shops, the administration suggested legalization is a “serious challenge” and may encourage young people to smoke pot.

States have eased spending on punishing people for drug crimes in favor of treating them for addictions. Some, including Texas, have shuttered whole prisons. At the federal level, top officials have repeatedly criticized the government’s sentencing policies, and the Senate is weighing the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bipartisan bill that would lighten tough mandatory punishments for certain drug crimes. The administration commends these efforts in the new report, contending that many have “already have many met with great success.” But they continue to fill the prisons for what is viewed as minor and nonviolent offenses.

This war has been a failure! Considering the cost of one prisoner verses treatment, it is reasonable to conclude that it is time for law enforcement, courts, and doctors to collaborate with each other to treat addiction as a public health issue, not a crime. But the goal is to monetize it and make slaves of men and women. And that’s my thought provoking perspective…

 


Harlem Pt. 2 – The Underworld

The rich history of Harlem could never be told in a few words. Actually, it will require several posts (four Parts) to come close to capturing the essence of Harlem’s grandeur. This is a continuation of this great legacy – the Underworld. It has been said that the character of the community is determined by its members. Since the hamlet came into existence Harlem’s storied history has been highly romanticized. Aside from Harlem’s artistic achievements, what was most romanced was the role of the underworld, which was a huge part of the nightlife and social scene.

In the 1920’s, the Jewish and Italian mafia played major roles in running the whites-only nightclubs and the speakeasies that catered to white audiences. While the famous mobster, Dutch Schultz, controlled all liquor production and distribution in Harlem during prohibition in the 1920’s. Rather than compete with the established mobs, black gangsters concentrated on the “policy racket,” also called the “Numbers game”. This was a gambling scheme similar to today’s lottery that could be played, illegally, from countless locations around Harlem. By the early 1950s, the total money at play amounted to billions of dollars, and the police force had been thoroughly corrupted by bribes from numbers bosses.

When you talk about Harlem gangsters, particularly of that era, two names come to mind immediately. One of the most powerful early numbers bosses was a woman, Madame Stephanie St. Clair, a black French woman from Martinique known as Queenie or Madame Queen. A tall, abrasive and tough woman, with a seldom-seen gentle side ran the famous New York extortion gang known as The Forty Thieves. The Forty Thieves had a reputation for being so tough that even the white gangsters would not interfere with their illegal operations or attempt to take over their turf. She utilized her experience and talents to set up operations as a policy banker and recruited some of Harlem’s most noteworthy gangsters to support her and her growing numbers business. Within a year she was worth more than $500,000 with more than 40 runners and 10 comptrollers in her charge.

Then there was the legendary Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson known as the Godfather of Harlem. You may recall Lawrence Fishburn played Bumpy Johnson in the movie Hoodlum. Bumpy was one of Madame Queen’s main recruits. He was a colorful character from Charleston, S.C. He had moved to Harlem with his parents when he was a small boy and was given the nickname, Bumpy, because of a large bump on the back of his head. He was a dapper gangster who always made it a point to wear the latest and best clothes while flashing wads of cash wherever he went. Bumpy was a pimp, burglar and stickup man who possessed a recalcitrant attitude. He always carried a knife and gun, which he would not hesitant to use.

Bumpy feared nobody and did not shy from confrontations. He was known for barroom clashes over the slightest issue, having a short fuse and for his arrogance. He never learned to curb his temper or to bow his head to any man. It was because of his negative demeanor that he spent almost half of his life in prisons before he even reached age 30. During his interments he became an avid reader and began writing poetry. Bumpy also proved to be an incorrigible prisoner and spent one-third of a 10-year sentence in solitary confinement. Because of his attitude, he was shuttled from prison to prison until his release in 1932.

Despite his tough-guy reputation, Bumpy Johnson had a soft side. It was common knowledge among Harlemites that he often helped many of Harlem’s poor with secret cash donations and gifts. Madame Queen liked what she saw in Bumpy and offered him a position as henchman in her numbers racket. He accepted and quickly gained her trust. One of his first tasks was to confront the Bub Hewlett gang. It erupted into one of Harlem’s most violent and bloody gang wars. Eventually, Bumpy gained the edge and defeated Hewlett, temporarily saving the numbers game from the Mobs first takeover attempt.

The relationship between Madame Queen and Bumpy was strange and tenuous at best. Some said they had an ongoing affair – others claimed the odd couple were only business partners. Bumpy never abandoned his pimping and robbery professions both of which irritated Madame Queen but both knew what would make the numbers game a success, so they successfully coexisted. These bosses became financial powerhouses, providing capital for loans for those who could not qualify for them from traditional financial institutions – loan sharking. They invested in legitimate businesses and real estate as a way to legitimize their profits.

The Godfather of Harlem lived until 1968, dying from a heart attack as oppose to dying by the gun in the manner most did in his business. As a testament to his success he maintained control of the underworld for nearly forty years with some saying that nothing illegal took place in Harlem without his permission. After Bumpy’s death the underworld became loosely organized and overcome by the drug trade with its many factions. Bumpy’s protégé, Frank Lucas and his rival Nicky Barnes became the most dominate players in the game.

Frank Lucas operated the largest drug business in Harlem after Bumpy’s death during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was particularly known for cutting out the middle man in the drug trade and buying heroin directly from sources in the Golden Triangle of Thailand. Lucas boasted that he smuggled heroin using the coffins of dead American servicemen. He controlled such large quantities that he was a supplier to the Mafia. When Frank was busted and facing life in prison, he flipped turning states evidence for the Fed’s causing the conviction of more than a hundred associates. However, it is important to note that most of those criminals were on the police force. His career was dramatized in the 2007 feature film American Gangster.

Leroy “Nicky” Barnes, known as Mr. Untouchable, led the notorious African-American crime organization known as “The Council” made up of seven powerful Harlem gangsters similar to the Mafia that controlled the heroin trade. Barnes was convicted in 1978 of multiple counts of RICO violations, including drug trafficking and murder, for which he was sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole. While in prison, Barnes became a “Rat” turning state’s evidence against his former associates in “The Council”. In exchange for his testimony, Barnes was released into the Federal Witness Protection Program. Comparing the gangsters of the two eras, one thing is clear despite the viciousness of their chosen profession, the contemporary gangster’s careers were short lived and all of their ill-gotten gains were lost.

As a result of the carnage distributed by these characters the drug addiction rate in Harlem was ten times higher than the New York City average and twelve times higher than in the United States as a whole. Of the 30,000 drug addicts then estimated to live in New York City, 15,000 to 20,000 lived in Harlem. Property crime was pervasive, and the murder rate was six times higher than New York’s average.

In the 1980’s, use of crack cocaine became widespread, which produced collateral crime as addicts stole to finance their purchasing of additional drugs. Dealers fought for the right to sell in particular regions or over deals gone bad causing the murder rate to skyrocket. By the end of the crack wars in the mid 90’s and with the initiation of aggressive policing crime in Harlem plummeted and a since of normalcy returned to the once proud historical hamlet of Harlem.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Just a Season


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