Russell Simmons Rallies for Drug Sentencing Reform @livesteez.com
Hip-hop mogul, Russell Simmons, joined hundreds of protesters outside the Manhattan office of Governor David Paterson in hopes to end the controversial Rockefeller Drug Law.
Simmons marched alongside a mass of local community organizations such as Families Rally for Emancipation and Empowerment (also known as FREE), the New York Civil Liberties Union, and the Correctional Association of New York. Director of the board of directors for the Correctional Association of New York and granddaughter of Nelson D. Rockefeller, Meile Rockefeller, is also planning to rally.
According to Legislativegazzette.com, Paterson, then a state senator, and Meile were arrested in 2002 for civil disobedience for their involvement in the “Drop the Rock” crusade disputing the same Rockefeller Drug Laws that are presently under scrutiny.
Executive Director to the Corrections Association of New York, Bob Gangi, argues that Paterson has abandoned his position on drug reform since he was elected Governor. “He is not exercising his power; we urge him to embrace his better political self, restate past issues, and help the legislature to move toward the drug law reform,” Gangi said.
Simmons told Allhiphop.com, “We are at the pivotal point where our hard work pays off. But we can’t let up now. The fact is the Governor and State Senator both fought for the changes that the assembly has proposed to them. But both the Governor Patterson and the State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith need to hear your voices. They are being pushed by forces that are not interested in changing this horrible law which has devastated black and brown communities for two generations.”
In 1973, the Rockefeller Drug Law was passed and initiated extreme mandatory sentencing of 15 to 25 years imprisonment for anyone attempting to sell more than 56 grams of narcotics or marijuana. The bill sparked criticism by those who have been affected claiming that law unfairly imprisons non-violent, minority offenders mostly in possession of small amounts of crack cocaine. It is estimated that 90% of the 12,000 offenders convicted under Rockefeller laws are African American and Latino.
Simmons also urged the community and anyone who has been a witness to unjust imprisonment to get involved and inspire change. He concluded, “Call or write Governor Paterson or State Senate Majority Leader Smith and push them to be true to the communities that made them. Tell them now that they are in power they can make the difference.”