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The Assata Dilemma

By Alphonso McGriff The reward for the capture and return of a fugitive member of a

black militant group convicted of murdering a New Jersey state trooper was doubled to $2 million. It is my opinion that this reward serves a purpose for this few purposes. The first increased reward is to influence those who are controlled by

money so that maybe one or some of those now deal with the closest to her have to pressure of rejecting

$2 Million or rejecting their relationship with Sis Assata.

The second purpose for this increased reward is to bring her name, pictures, story and historical presence to the public; therefore, publicly removing her from underground status while re-awakening and re-energizing bounty hunters and

The Hart Monitor Issue 14 June 2013 Page 1 The Assata Dilemma Page 2 Dr. Umar Johnson in Hartford Page 3 Obamas All of The Above Drug Control Policy Means More of the Same Failed Strategy Page 6 37,500 Husky A Parents At Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage Page 7 First Annual Malcolm X Day Held in Hartford

The Hart Monitor Issue 14 June 2013

others who may not have been thinking about this case. Because of our predictable, emotional, knee-jerk reactionary state of being (created by white people who know us better than we know ourselves) we contribute to removing Assata from her

organization of the Consciousness Coalition. The Hart photographers and graphic designers.

Monitor is always looking for contributing writers, artists,

underground status, by bringing attention to her and where she is with our petitions, marches, letters,

poems, boycotts, notes (like this one) and other counter

Dr. Umar Johnson in Hartford

By Joanna Iovino On Saturday, June 1, Dr. Umar Johnson the Prince of PanAfricanism came and spoke in New Britain and in Hartford. Daemond Benjamin, founder of Walk Worthy Brands, invited this dynamic speaker, who gave the keynote address at the Walk Worthy Brands Passing the Torch luncheon at CCSU in New Britain. After the luncheon, Dr. Umar Johnson spoke once again at Tru Books at 3155 Main Street in Hartford. Dr. Umar Johnson is one of the most sought after Black speakers in the country. He is a certified school psychologist who specializes in working with at-risk, violent, suicidal and depressed African American boys and girls. He works with parents across the country to evaluate children whose schools have attempted to place them in special education programs and on dangerous medications for diseases such as ADHD. Dr. Umar is an expert on learning disabilities and their impact on Black children. For five years, he served as the youngest of five African American male school psychologists in the School District of Philadelphia, the fifth

productive attempts to change the spirit, a group of people who have demonstrated over thousands of goals, and purpose of years that they are incapable of spiritual growth and change. So, Assata's potential re-caging.

in essence, our misguided attempts to help, directly contribute to

The third purpose for this increased reward is to continue with the long history of vilifying anyone who makes white people uncomfortable.

In my attempt to help us stop for a couple of days with the hope that we will realize what we are doing and just this one.

and think . . . I share this note

calm down and be quiet on

Other than be quiet, there is not one action in this particular case, that we can

take that will stop these white people from doing what they want to do . . . unless we were equipped with the greatest military on this planet, and we are not . . . of course unless you want to help. pray and God is your military . . . well, um . . . okay then, that may

This is just another perspective thrown out there in the "Perspectives Pot of Soup."

To contribute to the Hart Monitor, call 860-461-2611 or email The Hart Monitor is edited by Joanna Iovino and Larry Risby, and is a member

largest in the country. Dr. Umar spoke of how often Black children, particularly Black boys, are labeled as special ed children because of schools and

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teachers who do not attempt to understand the child or his cultural and family background. Dr. Umar postulates that there is no such illness as ADHD, which he refers to as Aint no Daddy at Home Disease, and that special education is simply a method of keeping school segregation intact, and of diminishing the achievements and self image of Black children. Dr. Umar also spoke of parental responsibility, the demonisation of Black boys and his book Psycho-Academic Holocaust: The Special Education & ADHD War Against Black Boys. While at Tru Books, he discussed the history of psychological diagnoses used as tools of white supremacy against Black people. Dr. Umar addressed all of the parents present at both events, giving them advice about how to keep their children from being misdiagnosed and miseducated by overzealous schools bent on crushing their spirits, keeping them down and accumulating money off of the tracking of Black children into special education programs. Dr. Umar also spoke about movement building and warned against allowing artificial divisions interfere with work for liberation. He addressed African spirituality and developing connections with ancestors. He outlined his plans for an independent, African centered school, and spoke on the problematic nature of charter

and magnet schools. Dr. Umar Johnson was received by his audiences with great respect and admiration. The enthusiasm at both of his presentations was palpable, and most of his listeners expressed a desire to bring him back to Hartford in the future.

Obamas All of the Above drug control strategy means more of the same failed strategy
by Clifford Thornton

On April 24th the Obama administration released its annual National Drug Control Strategy. President Obama has rhetorically stressed that education is central to getting the United States to move forward. He believes that drug use undermines this vision. The Administration fails to recognize that the War on Drugs has done far more to limit the potential of the country than drug use has. President Obama should know from his own experience that his rhetoric is exaggerated: During college, President Obama used marijuana often with his buddies in a group called the "Choom Gang." If his clique was in school today under his own drug policies, he'd be much more likely to get arrested and very likely lose the chance of becoming President, especially given the extraordinary racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement. His heavy marijuana use did not prevent him from succeeding in

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school, going to the best universities and having a very successful career. The president must realize that if he was one of the 700,000 arrested for marijuana offenses, as people are today, that his successful education and career path would likely have been stopped. As an African American, Barak Obama would be more likely to be arrested and more likely to receive harsh treatment at every stage of the criminal justice process because racial disparity is endemic to drug law enforcement. The Obama administration does say that research and science are of vital importance to developing a successful drug policy. Further, in their rhetoric they emphasize drug use should be a health issue, not a criminal or moral one. However, research conducted in a War on Drugs atmosphere is limited and does not examine the dynamics of how social controls limit drug use, how drug use is affected by law enforcement and how a drug culture develops in the forbidden fruit environment of illegality. As a result they do not know how to effectively deal with drug use and remain stuck in the drug war approach. Opium, coca, and cannabis have been used by many cultures for thousands of years medicinally and recreationally. There were, of course, instances of addiction of opiates but in fact, the level of opiate addiction today is about the same as it was when there were no laws against opium use. There were no criminal empires or violence in history until they were declared illegal and trafficking went underground. The 2005 UN Office of Drug Controls World Drug Report estimated the worldwide drug trade at $320 billion. The market has grown and steadily become more sophisticated. Of course, we saw these same phenomena in our experience with alcohol prohibition. When alcohol was made illegal a criminal culture, corruption and underground market developed with it. Those problems no longer exist with alcohol regulation. There are alcohol abuse problems but the crime problems of prohibition have disappeared. When substances are made illegal you make the substance abuse problems worse plus you add problems created by the criminal law.

As with President Obamas all of the above energy strategy, which tries to please everyone, in fact it is doing great harm to the environment, bringing us to the tipping point for climate change while slowing the urgent need to transition to a carbon-fee, nuclear-free energy economy. His all of the above drug policy of education, treatment and law enforcement, tries to please everyone but does not confront the obvious negative consequences of the War on Drugs. As a result, we cannot applaud the administrations policies. As long as drugs remain illegal and unregulated, those who profit will use their learned marketing techniques to maintain their profits. The only way to stop their activity is to put all drugs under a system of regulation and control. While it seems intuitive that if heroin were legal, more people would use it, the facts are in countries that have put in place heroin maintenance programs, which allow addicts to buy heroin from a clinic, heroin use has gone down. Once people begin to understand the dynamics of the drug trade, this makes sense. Addicts no longer have to sell heroin to pay for their habit, thus the illegal market shrinks. And, the removal of the profit motive ends marketing practices. Going to a clinic to obtain heroin as medicine is a lot less sexy than being seduced by a pusher into experimentation. Understanding these realities is where minds begin to change. If addicts can obtain heroin legally, dealers will go out of business. Every country that has tried heroin maintenance programs has found they reduce crime, reduce addiction, reduce the spread of HIV, prevent overdose deaths and allow addicts to improve their family relations, housing and employment status. The United States needs to develop pilot programs so research can be done to show whether heroin maintenance is more effective than a war on heroin. If marijuana had been considered a medicine rather than a naughty forbidden fruit, it is not likely it would have become the most widely used illegal drug in the United States. In an upcoming report the Green Shadow Cabinet Justice Council will go into greater detail on the history of marijuana policy and what the Obama administration should be doing in response to

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Washington and Colorado where voters have voted to legalize marijuana as well as the 18 states and Washington, DC where medical use is legal. The Obama administration has a tremendous opportunity to end the quagmire or the war on marijuana. We urge him to respect the will of the voters and the rights of states to be laboratories of democracy. We hope that the rhetoric of the administration which looks at drug use medically as a health problem rather than morally as a criminal law issue, is followed by policy which makes a public health approach a reality. However, so far they are still stuck in some old prohibition policies that grow more expensive for tax payers and for the individuals arrested and incarcerated. It is time for the United States to find a way out of the drug war. There are evidencebased solutions that show a non-criminal policy would protect the health and safety of Americans more effectively. Both the government and individuals who seek to end the drug war must paint a clear picture of how various drugs would be handled in a legal system, just as caffeine is not treated the same as alcohol or prescription drugs; marijuana would not be treated the same as heroin or cocaine. Regulatory systems allow flexibility based on the effects of the drugs. Regarding marijuana, a first step in order to increase research on the drug, is to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. This is the most restrictive schedule and makes research much more difficult. There is no question that marijuana has an accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, 18 states and Washington, DC have policies that allow its medical use, numerous professional health associations recognize it. President Obama, without any involvement by Congress, can reschedule marijuana right now. There is so much to learn about possible benefits of cannabis, opiates, cocaine, psychedelics that research on these substances needs to increase. The President's new paradigm is really not all that new, even George W. Bush used similar rhetoric. The Presidents National

Drug Control Strategy still relies on law enforcement and interdiction as the largest budget items when it comes to drug policy. The fact is that a true paradigm shift would recognize that an effective new policy would eliminate most of the drug-related crime and law enforcement would play a very limited role, focused on intoxicated driving and similar issues. Sadly, drug education in the environment of the drug war has often been ineffective, insulting the intelligence of children for generations. Too often, drug education is really drug war propaganda that confuses rather than educates. Drug education must be replaced by fact-based education. The Obama Administration plans to expand access to treatment. Through the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies will be required to cover treatment for addiction just as they would cover any other chronic disease. Unfortunately, so much of the treatment that exists is not effective. Treatment for marijuana addiction is a waste of resources in most cases. Patients don't seek it rather most treatment is the result of a court ordering it. Forced treatment fails. It is time to develop drug treatment programs that people who are having problems with drug use actually want. The Obama administration continues mass random drug testing. Unfortunately, widespread drug testing is bad for society and has very little relevance to work performance. People are denied employment, fired, refused housing, and often incarcerated for failing a forced urine test for marijuana they smoked several days before the test that does not affect their ability to function. Judgments about abusive use can be seen through behavioral problems, not invasive tests. Alcohol still causes more problems to individuals and society than any of these drugs would under a legally regulated system. Under the President's plan, we will still spend more than to $4 billion on interdiction and endure related violence on our borders, continue the violence in Mexico as well as our streets.

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How much simpler would our border security be if drugs were not part of the problem? Presidential leadership in the 21st Century requires us to face up to the failure of the 20th Centurys war on drugs. It is time to transform from a system of mass arrests and incarceration justified by propaganda, to a system of regulation and control, fact-based education, effective treatment and respect and dignity for the individual. The transition to a sensible and effective drug control strategy should begin now. While Congress is in dysfunction and unable to consider escaping the quagmire of the war on drugs, President Obama can take steps to begin the process and in so doing build up the evidence that an end to the drug war is the best way to protect the public health and safety of Americans. Respect democracy and enter into agreements with Washington and Colorado, which just voted to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, as well as with 18 states and Washington, DC that allow the medical use of marijuana, to make their laws effective and agree not to enforce federal marijuana laws so long as marijuana is use, grown and sold consistent with state or localgovernment controls and the states take action to prevent marijuana from entering states that have not reformed their laws. Reschedule marijuana consistent with the scientific and medical evidence. The Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana in Schedule I this is inappropriate as marijuana clearly has an accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Thousands of patients use marijuana medically, professional associations of doctors and nurses have recommended rescheduling and thousands of doctors have prescribed the drug consistent with state law. Marijuana fits most appropriately in Schedule V.

productive life. These people should be released and the federal government should provide assistance to help them transition into a successful life outside of prison.

Begin research studies in several cities that have had persistent heroin addiction problems that will provide existing addicts with heroin at health clinics. The studies should be modeled on the most successful studies in Europe, e.g. the addicts come to the clinic, purchase heroin at legal prices (a fraction of the cost of the illegal market) and use the heroin at the clinic under the supervision of healthcare workers. In addition, the clinic should provide services to help find housing, employment and education as well as an open door to treatment to end their heroin use. Studies in Europe have resulted in less crime, no overdose deaths, no spread of HIV/AIDS, reduced heroin trafficking and increases in employment, reduction in homelessness. The most surprising finding was that once they stabilized their lives with housing and employment many addicts decided to stop using heroin even though they had legal access.

These are initial steps that would begin to unwind the failed drug war.

37,500 Husky A Parents at Risk of Losing Medicaid Coverage

By Sarahi Y. Almonte In the Governors proposed budget this year, he plans to eliminate 37,500 Husky A parents that fall between 133%-185% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). This means that a family of four earning between $31,322 and $42,643 annually, will be forced out of Medicaid Husky A and into the Health Insurance Exchange

Use the presidential pardon power to immediately pardon all non-violent drug offenders. Thousands of people languish in prison at great expense to the tax payers whose only offense was a non-violent drug offense. Every day they spend in prison is a waste of their lives and undermines their potential to have a

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(HIX). The HIX is the states health insurance market. A market created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will, hopefully be designed to make insurance affordable to those who are not currently insured. The Governor argues that under the ACA, the federal government will provide subsidies for these families. And while it is true that subsidies will be provided to families who cannot afford the insurance in the exchange, Husky A parents will still NOT be able to afford this insurance these are already struggling to make ends meet. The average increase in spending per month for two Husky A parents would be an additional $200. Other factors to consider are that currently, Medicaid Husky A benefits includes dental, vision and transportation services. All of these will be lost in the HIX, which means that they will only be provided at an additional cost. These benefits are crucial to a lot of these families and for some, detrimental to their overall health. According to a report by CT Voices for Children (2011), 53% of families on Husky are Black and Latino. In a time where health disparities continue to soar and the conversation begins to shift towards health equity, eliminating working parents (working two and three jobs) from Husky A will further increase the problems around health issues, access to healthcare and quality healthcare. The ACA was created to to health increase access insurance. Moving Husky A parents and caregivers into the Health Insurance Exchange will force parents to opt-out of insurance (preferring to take the annual $95 penalty for being uninsured) and the problem of Emergency Department visits will because families

continue to escalate. You can do something simple to ensure that 37,500 working parents are kept on Husky A, call your legislator and tell them to reject the Governors proposal to eliminate Husky A parents. You can also join Caring Families Coalition and participate in civic engagement. If you would like more information on this matter, contact Caring Families Coalition at 860-524-0502.

Caring Families Coalition is designed to provide low/moderate income families in CT with the resources and organizational strength to effectively participate in health care reform.

First Annual Malcolm X Day held in Hartford

by Joanna Iovino On May 18, 2013, the Consciousness Coalition presented Hartfords First Annual Malcolm X Day. The event was held at the Hartford Public Library, and drew over 200 community members. An incredible sense of community pride, cooperation and celebration was on full display on this day.

The theme of the First Annual Malcolm X Day was Stopping Violence by Any Means Necessary. The day began with drumming and libations presented by Sankofa Kuumba. Honor was given to the ancestors and the elders, who were asked for permission to continue the event. Brother Kelvin X. Lovejoy, one of the event organizers and a member of the Consciousness Coalition, introduced those present to the theme of the event and to the first part of the presentation, a series of clips of Malcolm X

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speeches. It was a rousing presentation, and those present were visibly moved by the experience. After the video presentation, a panel discussion was introduced. The panelists were Minister Naeem Muhammad, minister of Muhammads Mosque #14 and the Connecticut representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan; Imam Ansari Muhammad, resident Imam of the New Africa Learning Center and President of the Greater Hartford NAACP; Reverend Henry Brown, founder of Mothers United Against Violence; Cynthia Jennings, Council member in the City of Hartford; and Jasiri X, an internationally known conscious hip hop artist from Pittsburgh. The panel was asked two pertinent questions by Brother Lovejoy. First, they were asked to address how Malcolm X has influenced their lives and their work. Then they were asked how the lessons learned from Malcolm X can be used to combat violence in Hartford. They spoke with conviction and passion about Malcolm and his legacy, about the work they are currently doing to curb violence in Hartford, and about the work that still needs to be done. After all of the panelists responded to these questions, the audience had an opportunity to submit questions of their own. After the panel discussion, Jasiri X performed for those in attendance. A raffle drawing was held, where those present had the opportunity to win Malcolm X related items such as books, posters and postage stamps. Brother Kelvin X Lovejoy also read a mayoral proclamati on that made May 18, 2013 officially Malcolm X Day in the City of Hartford. The audience was enthused and motivated by both the panel and the performance, and many took the opportunity to stay after the

program was over to share a communal meal and to speak to

others in the crowd about the event, the work they are doing in the community, and the needs they see as being most pertinent in Hartford today. The Consciousness Coalition, presenter of the event, was founded in February 2013 by a group of grassroots community organizations which includes the Ministry of Education (MM #14), The Hart Monitor: Voices of Liberation, For Unity Community Outreach Corporation, Walk Worthy Brands and the Hartford Mass Incarceration Community Action Team. This alliance is dedicated to educating, empowering and strengthening the Hartford Community by raising consciousness through educational films, informative speakers and engaging dialogue. The ultimate goals are to encourage educational awareness, cooperative economics, neighborhood and family empowerment and to facilitate alliances between various grassroots campaigns in Hartford.

Joanna Iovino is an editor of the Hart Monitor, a member of the Consciousness Coalition and one of the organizers of the Malcolm X Day event.

The Hart Monitor Issue 14 June 2013