Hundreds Rally Against Rockefeller Drug Laws 3/5/99

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A crowd of about 500 people gathered on the steps of the New York State Capitol Building in Albany last Tuesday, March 2nd, to protest the state's draconian drug laws, named after then governor Nelson Rockefeller. The rally, sponsored by the William Moses Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, featured Rev. Al Sharpton, retired State Supreme Court Judge Jerome Marks, Rev. Herbert Daughtry of Brooklyn, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, actor Al Lewis of "Munsters" fame, Margaret Tarbet of the Kunstler fund, and others, as well as family members of prisoners serving lengthy mandatory prison terms under the laws.

According to the Daily Gazette, Jaheen Hilts, a 12-year old whose father and uncle are both serving time in state prison and sale and possession of cocaine, held a poster with his father's picture and sentence, 15 to 30 years. Hilts entered prison when his son was age 5, and will not be eligible for parole until he is 20.

The Associated Press quoted 10-year-old Lisa Oberg, whose mother Arlene is serving a 20 years to life, saying, "This law is mean and unfair and cruel." The AP also reported that protesters booed Rockefeller's name whenever a speaker mentioned it.

"Words alone cannot relay the emotion, the electricity, the anger and determination of the Rockefeller Drug Rally participants," commented DRCNet member Jeffrey Seymour, who attended the rally.

The Week Online spoke with Randy Credico of the Kunstler Fund, who said that their amount of mail soared as the Albany rally approached. The Fund is planning a "Seven Days in May" demonstration, consisting of vigils with family members from Monday, 5/8 through Friday 5/12 in different locations in New York City, a rally on Saturday 5/13 at the State Building in Harlem, and a rally on Sunday 5/14 outside the the Bedford Hills correctional facility. May 8 is the 26-year anniversary of the law's signing. Vigils will be held around the state, especially the north, throughout the month of April.

To learn more or find out how to get involved, visit on the web, e-mail [email protected], or call the Vigil Action Initiative Update hotline at (212) 539-8441.

For more information on mandatory minimum sentences, visit the Families Against Mandatory Minimums web site at The FAMM workshop will take place from March 27-29 in Washington, DC.

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Issue #81, 3/5/99 Announcements | HEA Reform Campaign Gains Momentum -- DRCNet Attacked by Republican Rep. Souder | Hundreds Rally Against Rockefeller Drug Laws | Amnesty International Charges that Women Behind Bars Suffer "Rough Justice" | Drug Policy Coalition Calls for Reversal of Budget Priorities | Federal Bill Reintroduced to Legalize Medical Marijuana | Canada's House of Commons Debates Medical Marijuana | Australian Prime Minister Criticized Over FBI Invitation | Sen. Hatch Advocates for Expansion of Maintenance Therapies for Opiate Dependency | Hemp Reform Efforts Underway | Editorial: Million Man Madness
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