MIRA and Rights Leaders in Mississippi Express Solidarity with Mexico Caravan for Peace
As it passed through Jackson, Mississippi, on August 28th, the Caravan for Peace headed by Mexican Poet and organizer, Javier Sicilla received the solidarity of the African American community affected by the criminalization of drugs.
The Caravan, consisting of some 150 people including relatives of the victims of the War on Drugs and activists, arrived at the Central United Methodist Church on Farish Street, in Jackson from Houston, Texas, after being forced to suspend their visit to New Orleans because of the threat of Hurricane Isaac.
The church located in the historic African American Farish Street area near downtown Jackson, welcomed the caravan participants with meals and housing during their 2 night stay.
Organized by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA), two events highlighted their day in Jackson. At noon they held a news conference led by Javier Sicilla joined by community leaders from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU, the Children’s Defense Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Mississippi Black Legislative Caucus, among others, despite the looming presence of Hurricane Isaac. Well attended by the Mexican journalists, local radio and television reporters, and the Spanish language Mississippi weekly, La Noticia.
A community forum led by MIRA President and State Representative Jim Evans, and presented by various community leaders outlined the tragedies in the United States caused by racism and the war on drugs, affecting primarily people of color from the cradle to the grave. This was the Caravan’s first encounter with allies from a major African American community. And from the Caravan, a mother and a sister of the Mexican war victims told their stories of horrific disappearances and beheadings of their loved ones.
Daniel Robelo, from the Drug Policy Alliance which promotes alternatives the U.S. drug policy, reported the U.S. African American communities are most affected by the War on Drugs. He explained that only 15% of the total U.S. drug users are African American, yet they make up 74% of those jailed. He added that almost one in three African Americans between the ages of twenty and thirty are under criminal justice supervision, two in five in that age group are incarcerated.
For a detailed picture of the affect the so-called War on Drugs has had in the African American communities in the U.S., please read Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The War on Drugs in Mexico, underwritten by U.S. tax dollars, has resulted in more that 70,000 murders, mainly of innocents, during the past six years, and has contributed to the migration from the violence to the U.S.
(Adapted from La Jornada, Mexico, and MIRA sources)