Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Announces Mass Rally Against Drug War at GOP Convention 5/14/04

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New York City is going to be a very busy place when the Republicans venture into potentially hostile territory for the national convention at the end of August. Numerous groups are already planning protests and demonstrations, and now hip-hop entrepreneur turned social activist Russell Simmons and his Hip-Hop Summit Action Network (, or HSAN have filed for a permit to hold a demonstration outside Madison Square Garden, where the convention will take place, on August 30, the meeting's opening day.

The "Mobilization to Focus on Ending the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York State and Mandatory Minimum Sentences Throughout the United States" will draw 50,000 people, the New York Civil Liberties Union estimated, in the permit application it helped draft for the demonstration.

Russell Simmons addresses the media
at the June 4, 2003 rally
(photo courtesy
Given Simmons' past performance, such a turnout is not unlikely. Last June, Simmons and a slew of hip-hop performers drew tens of thousands to midtown Manhattan on a rainy day in an effort to break the legislative stalemate that has stymied reform or repeal of the state's draconian Rockefeller drug laws ( And Simmons and HSAN have promised more star power this time around, with Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Nas, 50 Cent, Ludacris, Mariah Carey and Carly Simon among those slated to attend the rally. "We intend to raise public awareness by mobilizing tens of thousands of young people to register to vote and to speak out about the unfairness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws," Simmons told "This will be the biggest hip-hop gathering ever, and we intend for our voices to be heard. We will not be silenced. The March on New York is going down. It will be the illest march in history."

Late last month, Simmons and Dr. Benjamin Chavis Muhammad, president and CEO of HSAN, issued a call to youth leaders across the country to organize busloads of young people to travel to New York City for the demonstration and Hip-Hop Action Summit. They should come to New York to protest "the unfairness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws and other mandatory minimum sentences, as well as support for more funding for equal, high quality education in the public school systems throughout the nation," said the pair.

While emphasizing the injustice of the drug war, Simmons and Muhammad are also placing that struggle within the context of a broader progressive agenda. "The March on New York is a march for freedom, justice and equality," said Muhammad. "We are saying 'no' to Rockefeller Drug Laws and we are saying 'yes' to youth voter registration and mobilization, as well as saying 'yes' to equal, high quality education for in all public schools. We are saying 'no' to the war in Iraq and 'yes' to a war on poverty and ignorance in America. Hip-hop is about spitting truth in the face of injustice," said Muhammad.

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Issue #337, 5/14/04 Editorial: Always Another Angle | Russia Enacts Sweeping Reforms in Drug Laws: No Jail for Possession | Maryland Treatment Not Jail Bill Signed Into Law | Canada Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Dying as Government Prepares to Call Elections, Few Mourners | Calls for Sentencing Reform Grow in Arizona | Announcing: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War" -- New Compendium by Sheriff Masters Features David Borden and Numerous Other Thinkers on Drug Policy | Newsbrief: Local Prosecutor Tries to Block Atlantic City Needle Exchange, Would Be New Jersey's First | Newsbrief: Pennsylvania Attorney General Hops on Prescription Drug Abuse Bandwagon | Newsbrief: Ohio Appeals Court Upholds City's Harsh Marijuana Penalties | Newsbrief: Congress Defeats Effort to Abolish Cap on US Troops in Colombia | Newsbrief: Anti-Drug Ads Pique Curiosity, Researcher Finds | Newsbrief: Alcohol Prohibition Coming to Nigerian State | Newsbrief: Study Finds "No Increased Risk" for Marijuana-Using Drivers | Newsbrief: Hip-Hop Summit Announces Mass Rally Against Drug War at GOP Convention | Newsbrief: Finnish Green MP Causes Flap with Admission of Cannabis Use | Newsbrief: Million Marijuana Marches, Continued -- Rocking in Rosario, Repression in Russia and Israel | This Week in History | Job Opportunity: Program Coordinator, International Harm Reduction Development Program, OSI | The Reformer's Calendar

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