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Press Release: Artist, Activist Anthony Papa Exhibits Work at Fundraiser for The Lower Eastside Girls Club

For Immediate Release: January 25, 2007 More Info: Tony Newman at (646) 335-5384 Artist, Rockefeller Reform Activist Anthony Papa Exhibits Art at Fundraiser for The Lower Eastside Girls Club of New York Mr. Papa to Discuss Art as Tool for Personal and Social Change at Reception on February 15 Elected Officials, Drug War Reform Advocates, Community Leaders and Philanthropists Come Together to Support The Lower Eastside Girls Club Anthony Papa, artist, activist and communications specialist for the Drug Policy Alliance, will be exhibiting more than 70 pieces of artwork at The Lower Eastside Girls Club's Art+Community Gallery in a show called, “Now and Then: The Art of Anthony Papa.” The exhibit will feature his work from while he was incarcerated under the Rockefeller Drug Laws and his work since returning home in 1997. Mr. Papa literally painted his way to freedom after finding his passion for art while serving a 15 years to life sentence for a first time nonviolent drug offense. While behind bars, Mr. Papa painted a self portrait, "15 to Life," which eventually displayed at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The injustice of Mr. Papa's case generated national and statewide media in New York and ultimately led to Governor Pataki granting Mr. Papa clemency after serving 12 years in jail. His book "15 To Life" is now on its way to becoming a feature film. "Art has the ability to inspire and transform both the individual and society," says Papa. "The Girls Club has the same impact on hundreds of girls every day." "Art has become my vehicle for expression and empowerment," Papa continued. "I hope to inspire the girls to find their passion and voice in whatever they choose to pursue." The show will continue on until March 5th and is a benefit for the art and curatorial training programs of The Lower Eastside Girls Club. The Girls Club works with economically disadvantaged girls and young women ages 8-23, many who are personally affected by the Rockefeller Drug Laws through the incarceration of family members and friends. "At the Girls Club we believe that art has the power to change reality and open doors. Tony Papa's work shows the girls that this istrue," said Lyn Pentecost, Executive Director. The event will be attended by Lower Eastside Girls Club members and their families, elected officials, drug policy reform activists and philanthropists. I've been a longtime supporter and admirer of Anthony Papa and his work," said Lawrence Goldfarb, CEO of LRG Capital Group, Baystar Capital. "I am honored to lend my time and energy to support the work of my friend, Anthony, and The Lower Eastside Girls Club." Mr. Goldfarb and LRG Capital Group will host a reception at the end of the show. The Lower Eastside Girls Club Art+Community Gallery is at 56 East 1st Street between 1st and 2nd aves. For more information, contact Adriana Pezzulli at 917-653-8542 or The Lower Eastside Girls Club is dedicated to providing a place where girls and young women 8-23 can grow, learn, have fun, and develop confidence in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. By delivering strong and innovative arts, athletic, cultural, life-skills and career oriented programming, we provide girls with the vision to plan - and the tools to build - their future.
New York, NY
United States

Put Drug Laws on the Day One Docket

Albany, NY
United States
Albany Times-Union

Disturbing the Universe: Radical Lawyer William Kunstler

The New York County Lawyers Association (NYCLA) Civil Rights Committee will host a screening of clips from the upcoming documentary, Disturbing the Universe: Radical Lawyer William Kunstler. The event is open to the public. The screening will be followed by a reception and discussion on how Mr. Kunstler's radical actions relate to contemporary civil rights issues. Speakers will be the film's co-directors, Mr. Kunstler's daughters, Emily Kunstler and Sarah Kunstler, Esq, and Michael Ratner, Esq., President of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Sponsor: NYCLA Civil Rights Committee Co-Sponsors: NYCLA's Labor Relations & Employment Law and Minorities & the Law Committees, Criminal Justice Section, and the Center for Constitutional Rights For more information visit DIRECTIONS: NYCLA is located at 14 Vesey Street between Broadway and Church Street. St. Paul's Chapel is across the street. We are in lower Manhattan, near City Hall and the World Trade Center site. By Subway: 4, 5, J and M trains to Fulton Street station. 2, 3 trains to Park Place station. A, C and E trains to Chambers/WTC station. N & R trains to City Hall station. By Bus: Numbers 1, 6, 9, 22, 15 and 103 buses to City Hall, Fulton Street, Vesey Street area.
Wed, 01/10/2007 - 6:00pm - 10:00pm
14 Vesey Street Second Floor Lounge
New York, NY 10007
United States

Artist, Activist Tony Papa to Highlight Cruel Drug War with Art Installation in Oakland Nov. 9-11

For Immediate Release: November 4, 2006 Contact: Tony Newman (646) 335-5384 or Tommy McDonald (646) 335-2242 Artist, Activist Tony Papa to Highlight Cruel Drug War with Art Installation in Oakland Nov. 9-11 Show Visually Depicts Major Tragedies of Drug War: “Two Years for One Joint”; “HIV Due to Dirty Syringes”; “Racial Disparity of Drug War”; all on Display at Harm Reduction Conference in Oakland Papa Discovered Art in Prison and Painted His Way to Freedom after 12 Years Behind Bars Under Draconian Drug Laws Noted artist, activist and author Anthony Papa will highlight the casualties of the war on drugs at an art installation during the Harm Reduction Coalition conference in Oakland November 9-12 The Harm Reduction Coalition conference brings together hundreds of drug policy reform advocates from across the country to discuss effective public health approaches to dealing with drug use and misuse. The conference will take place November 9-12 at the Marriot hotel, Oakland City Center, 1001 Broadway, CA “The Drug War” is an art installation by artist/activist Anthony Papa. The installation is a multi-media presentation that visually portrays some of the most compelling drug war issues in the news. The visual narratives in the installation are powerful reminders of the raging war on drugs that ravages many of our communities. “The use of art as a political weapon is not new,” says Papa who discovered his political awareness through his art and has used his art as a vehicle to fight the drug war. “Through history, the role of the artist as a social commentator has been invaluable. Art is a great vehicle for expressing views to others in a way that is unmatched in any other media outlet for its truthfulness”. “Like Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Goya’s ‘Third of May,’ which both powerfully portrayed the atrocities of war, my installation follows their lead in revealing the impact of America’s drug war.” Papa spent 12 years in prison for a first time non-violent drug offense. While imprisoned, he discovered his artistic talent. In 1995, after a showing of his art at the Whitney Museum, his case attracted national attention. Two years later, New York Governor George Pataki granted Papa executive clemency. Papa currently works for the Drug Policy Alliance. The installation highlights issues that affect all Americans, whether they use drugs or not. It is steeped in a continuous motif of an upside down American flag, which signifies the universal concept the state of distress in war. · “Justice in Black and White” shows the racial imbalance of the effects of the New York’s Rockefeller Drug Laws. Ninety-four percent of those incarcerated under the laws are black and Latino. Ten crying babies dress in prison garb dangle in front of their incarcerated mothers and ask “where are our mothers?” · “Two Years in Jail for One Joint” shows the madness of the drug war. Mitchell Lawrence, an 18-year-old was sentenced to two years in jail for one joint by an over zealous prosecutor in Massachusetts. A single golden joint sits in a silver jewelry box surrounded by dozens of candles · “Give Them All Dirty Needles and Let Them Die” - taken from the cruel quote of TV’s “Judge Judy” - boldly illustrates how New Jersey is the only U.S. state that lacks a needle exchange program. Dozens of bloodied syringes penetrate a coffin draped with the New Jersey flag. · Part of the installation a marijuana plant asks the question who should decide what medicine we should put in our bodies – cops or doctors. · “Got a Cold? Prove it and Sign the Log” portrays the hoops Americans must now jump through to buy cold medicine due to the federal government’s desire to monitor our everyday actions in the name of the curbing the methamphetamine “epidemic.” Papa hopes the installation raises awareness for mainstream society who rarely think about the drug war. “I use my art as a means of visually translating the deep emotional responses of the human condition. My life choices forced me to discover my hidden artistic talent. In the same way I try to make that intuitive connection with the viewer by living through my work, breaking down barriers that separate us from truth.”
United States

Sentencing: No Retroactive Relief for Rockefeller Drug Law Prisoners, New York Appeals Court Rules

People serving tough mid-level sentences under New York's draconian Rockefeller drug laws will not be able to get those sentences reduced if they were convicted before drug sentencing reforms took effect in January 2005, the state's highest court ruled September 21. In its opinion in the consolidated cases of three men sentenced under the old laws, the court held that the legislature intended only to cut the sentences of those newly convicted.
not enough: Gov. Pataki signs Rockefeller reform bill, 12/04
Under the Drug Law Reform Act that came into effect last year, some 400 prisoners facing the most severe sentences -- up to life -- were allowed to seek retroactive sentence cuts. But thousands of prisoners doing lesser, but still severe, sentences were not explicitly granted that right. Three of them -- Thomas Thomas Utsey, Michael Nelson and Corey Smith -- appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing they should have had the same opportunity to seek retroactive redress.

But in a unanimous decision, the court said no way. The bill clearly stated that the law would "apply to crimes committed on or after the effective date," the court noted. "Under the plain language of the statute, the relevant provisions of the DLRA are intended to apply only to crimes committed after its effective date," Chief Judge Judith Kaye said in her decision. "That being so, defendants are not eligible for the reduced penalties contained in the new law."

It took years of dogged effort by a broad coalition of civil rights, prison reform, and drug reform groups to win even the partial reform that was approved in 2004. Now, the New York courts have strongly signaled that any further relief must come through that same cumbersome legislative process.

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