For the past two years, Philadelphia's Kensington Welfare Rights Union (http://www.kwru.org) has been conducting "Drug War Reality Tours" of the gritty inner city neighborhood. Now the tour hits the airwaves in the City of Brotherly Love, thanks to the collaboration of the Guerilla News Network's video project (http://gnn.tv) and Philadelphia's DUTV, cable channel 54. The tour will air Tuesday, February 17, at 1:00am and 9:00pm, and is now playing on the Guerrilla News Network web site.
Kensington was once a thriving industrial center, but lost thousands of jobs overseas beginning in the 1970s. Now, says the KWRU, "Kensington's two major sources of income are welfare and narcotics."
"People who live here are survivors of the war on drugs and the war against the poor," the KWRU's Arun Prabhakaran told DRCNet after one of the first tours. "We are trying to expose the connections, the interests, that corporations and the US government have in the drug war. Our tour attempts to provide a full picture of the reality of the drug war. And we relate it to using money for more effective ways of dealing with the problem, the demand side, and building a movement designed to end poverty not only in the US, but around the world," he said. "One of the major issues here in Kensington is drugs. Not just drug use, but poor people having to resort to selling drugs or growing drugs as a matter of survival. The drug economy must be seen in the context of other economic factors," such as the deindustrialization of the Northeast, said Prabhakaran. "We feel like poor communities are dramatically affected by the drug war. The drugs go in, then the police arrest people and incarcerate them at unbelievable rates in poor communities. This is not a race thing, this is a class issue, poor people are under attack."
The Drug War Tour doesn't just the cover the heroin corners, pawnshops and prostitution corridors of Kensington, or the hospitals with detox centers and methadone. It also connects the dots, with visits to the airport, the Philadelphia docks and the I-95 corridor, where drugs pour into the city, and the chemical plants of Kensington, where multinational corporations produce the potassium permanganate and acetic anhydride used in turning coca and opium plants into the powders that plague the community.
For those of you in Philadelphia, check it out on the tube on Tuesday. For the rest of us, check it out at http://www.gnn.tv/war_on_drugs/reality_tour/ online.
Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/204/realitytour.shtml for our reporting on the early days of the Drug War Reality Tour.