The time is now to drop the rock!

BY:Vigilancia| September 21, 2001

HARLEM, N.Y. ‘Drop the Rock, Drop the Rock, Drop the Rock!!!’ was the mantra that resonated from 500+ angry voices on a blistery hot day at the Harlem State Office Building on June 15. The Drop the Rock Rally arose from a youth-driven movement in response to the unjust Rockefeller Drug Laws, which impose a 15-year mandatory prison sentence for anyone convicted of selling 2 ounces or possessing 4 ounces of a narcotic substance, without regard to the circumstances of the offense.

Although the Rockefeller drug laws were supposedly intended to incarcerate ‘drug kingpins’ or violent drug offenders. Those who really profit from the drug trade have couriers transport their narcotics to evade imprisonment. The reality is that Rockefeller Drug Laws fill prisons with non-violent, minor offenders and drain resources from crime prevention programs and services, such as drug treatment and public education.

New York State recently increased annual prison spending by $ 761 million; during the same time period, funding for public education decreased by $ 615 million. The depressed economies in upstate New York are profiting from the prison-industrial complex by concentrating construction and staffing of new prisons in Republican senate districts.

To protest these callous laws, a diverse coalition of civic, political and religious groups are organizing in support of the Drop the Rock campaign. The coalition includes Ron Daniels from the Center for Constitutional Rights, the United New York Black Radical Congress, the Correctional Association of New York, the Prison Moratorium Project, Manhattan Borough President Virgina Fields, labor unions and activists, American Jewish Congress, various local rap artists and many others.

Tamala Montgomery, co-chair for the criminal justice committee of the United New York Black Radical Congress and speaker at the Drop the Rock rally, said, ‘Following the enactment of the Rockefeller drug laws, a steep rise in the number of convictions occurred because of policing strategies that were replicated nationwide that targeted poor and minority communities.’

The Rockefeller drug laws are undeniably racist as shown in studies that reveal that African Americans and Latinos comprise about 94 percent of the drug offenders in New York State prisons! However, drug usage is a problem affecting every community in the U.S. There remains a vast discrepancy along color lines between those who use and sell drugs but avoid arrest and incarceration, and those who are not as fortunate.

Montgomery continued, ‘The Drop the Rock campaign will focus on a voting strategy, by educating voters about the Rockefeller drug laws and encouraging registered voters to cast their votes based on their representatives’ position on the Rockefeller drug laws.’

There are currently over 20,000 drug offenders incarcerated in New York State prisons. Nearly 80 percent are nonviolent offenders. If the Rockefeller drug laws are repealed, the unjust imprisonment of thousands of men and women will be overturned, allowing them to return to their communities.

Visit to learn more about the Rockefeller drug laws and how you can get involved.

Side bar on US Prisons:
94% African Americans and Latinos
2 million incarcerated
20,000 Drug offenders in NYS prisons

From Dynamic Magazine, September/October, 2001


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