Message from Kevin Zeese
Day Four: The Journey for Justice Educates A&M
September 25, 2000
Texas A&M is the home of the President George Bush Museum, George Bush Drive and a reading center named for Barbara Bush. It is the home of 8,000 ROTC students -- the largest military training university outside of West Point. The ROTC's make up one-fifth of the student population and affect the attitude of the student body. They walk through campus in uniform with boots that clang as they walk.
Throughout the day Journeyers did outreach to the students -- passing out 1,000 pieces of literature advertising the organizing meeting we were holding that night. They reported that one in four students were receptive. The remainder seemed afraid to be associated with drug issues. Many probably thought that what we were doing -- speaking out against the drug war -- was illegal. Journeyers also drove through the campus and surrounding town with a bullhorn talking about the drug war.
Once again the CBS-TV affiliate (the only network with a local staff) covered the Journey extensively, interviewing members and filming the handing out of literature.
The evening program began, after an introduction by Jodi James, with several skits about the First Amendment and the Fourth Amendment. The First Amendment speech was particularly cogent because today the Scripps Howard Texas Poll found that more than one-third of Texans can't name any rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and only half recognize they have the right to freedom of speech.
The first skit showed an example of an activist collecting signatures for a petition. A police officer approaches, asks for a permit, tells the activist he is creating a disturbance, disturbing the peace, encouraging illegal activity. The activist remains polite but firm throughout each of these allegations but firmly stands his ground on the First Amendment. He shows the officer the literature he is handing out and attempts to educate him about the need to end the drug war and engage him in discussion on the issues. The officer asks whether the activist has identification with him. The activist responds that he does. The officer asks to see it. The activist tells the officer his name but refuses to provide ID. The officer accuses the petitioner of disturbing the police and arrests him. Scott Bledsoe reviewed the actions taken by the petitioner and tells the audience the correct way to handle the situation (the activist in this scenario has taken all the right steps).
The next two scenario's are a traffic stop. In the first situation the passenger, a medical marijuana patient carrying marijuana, does not protect his Fourth Amendment rights. In the second, he does. The critical points, as the conversation escalates, are:
do not carry drugs in plain view
refuse to consent to search
ask whether you are free to leave or are under arrest.
The group next heard from Ann McCormack -- who told the story of Todd and other medical marijuana patients. Kay Lee spoke about the history of the Journey, the plights of prisoners as well as prison guards and the need for prison reform.
The focus of my comments were, which concluded the night, were two-fold:
the drug war is a more serious problem than they realized and that until we solve it, many of the other social problems we face cannot be solved; and
they have the power to do something about it and now that they had the facts, they had the responsibility to do something about it.
Further, being on a conservative campus made their work even more powerful because they were not speaking to the converted, but would be educating to convert people.
Several students showed interest in getting involved. One came to our RV's and portable prison talking about forming a NORML chapter [National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws]. Several others were interested in SSDP [Students for Sensible Drug Policy]. They were considering putting up a table at A&M to get petitions so they could become a college group. They expected that even taking that small step was likely to get attention at A&M.
Day Five will focus on drug war deaths as we go to Hempstead -- the site of an alcohol prohibition related killing.
Webmaster: Art Smart
Latest Revision 27-Sep-00