‘Whose War on Drugs’ #BHeard Town Hall Planned

As the merits of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana continue to be debated in New York, stark disparities in arrest rates persist. Across the city, Black people were arrested on low-level marijuana charges at eight times the rate of white, non-Hispanic people over the past three years, The New York Times recently reported, while Hispanic people were arrested at five times the rate of white people. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the city will stop arresting people for smoking marijuana in public – meanwhile, though, the city has seen increases in opioid use and drug overdoses.

Against this backdrop, BRIC TV is planning a #BHeard Town Hall, “Whose War on Drugs?” to be held at the BRIC House on May 23 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In its announcement of the Town Hall, BRIC TV notes:

In the 1970s, President Nixon declared a “War On Drugs.” Billions of dollars have since been spent, millions of people incarcerated, and nearly forty years later, we are still no closer to a solution. This so-called war disproportionately targets, prosecutes and incarcerates people of color.

A panel of experts and community members will address a number of questions, including, says the announcement: “Who benefits from this war? How can we begin to reverse the collateral damage to our communities? And how do we bridge the gap between public health and the criminal justice system?”

BRIC TV’s Brian Vines will moderate. The scheduled panelists are: Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez; Dr. Hillary Kunins, assistant commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; Kassandra Frederique, New York State director of the Drug Policy Alliance; Tom Robbins, contributing writer, The Marshall Project (and investigative journalist in residence at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism) and Chino Hardin, field director, Center for NuLeadership on Urban Solutions.

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