Pubdate: Mon, 04 Jul 2016
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Copyright: 2016 The Washington Post Company
Author: Danielle Allen
Note: Danielle Allen is a political theorist at Harvard University 
and a contributing columnist for The Post.


When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one part 
of the American people to affirm the political bands which connect 
them to the other parts, and to assume within the nation, the 
connected and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of 
Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of their 
fellow citizens requires that they should declare the causes which 
impel them to affirm their connection.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created 
equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain 
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the 
pursuit of Happiness, - That to secure these rights, Governments are 
instituted among us, deriving their just powers from the consent of 
the governed, - That whenever any Form of Government becomes 
destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or 
to abolish it, and, if they choose the path of alteration, to abandon 
old and institute new legislation, laying its foundation on such 
principles and organizing the powers of government in such form, as 
to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. 
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that legislation long established 
should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly 
all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, 
while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing 
the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of 
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a 
design to repudiate the integral connection among Americans, it is 
their right, it is their duty, to throw off such legislation, and to 
provide new Guards for their future security. - Such has been the 
patient sufferance of African Americans; and such is now the 
necessity which constrains them to advocate the end of Prohibition. 
The history of the present War on Drugs is a history of repeated 
injuries and usurpations, all having as a direct consequence the 
severing of the connection between African Americans and the rest of 
the American polity.

To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Drug laws are disproportionately enforced against African American 
and Latino Americans even though Americans of all ethnic backgrounds 
use illegal drugs at the same rates, with the exception of Asian 
Americans, who use them somewhat less.

The use of racial profiling as a technique of investigation strips 
African Americans and Latino Americans of equality before the law and 
robs them of the presumption of innocence, the purpose of which is to 
protect all democratic citizens from tyrannical intrusion.

The categorization of minor, nonviolent drug offenses as felonies, 
combined with the disproportionate enforcement of those laws against 
African Americans and Latino Americans, has served to strip large 
numbers of Americans from these communities of their right to vote.

The judicial system is swollen with nonviolent drug offenses, leading 
to a reduction of resources for investigating and prosecuting 
homicides, which in turn has dramatically reduced homicide clearance 
rates in all major cities.

The failure of the criminal justice system to resolve homicides in 
major cities leads to an acceleration of violence in those cities, 
and a trigger-happy environment in which police as well as civilians 
are more likely to misuse lethal force.

Violence in inner cities reinforces negative stereotypes of African 
Americans as dangerous and threatening, making unarmed African 
Americans disproportionately vulnerable to police violence and 
feeding implicit bias that negatively affects the employment 
prospects of African Americans.

School discipline policies disproportionately punish African American 
students, even in prekindergarten; although no black-white 
achievement gap exists at the start of kindergarten (controlling for 
socioeconomic status), such a gap does exist by the end of that year.

Laws establishing school funding on the basis of property taxes 
ensure that schools that have an especially high need to provide 
security, and other ancillary resources, in support of their 
educational mission are unable to fulfill their mission, thereby 
violating for students enrolled in those schools the right to 
education that is to be found in 49 of 50 state constitutions.

Legal restrictions on employment by minors, combined with low rates 
of labor opportunity in inner cities, increase the likelihood that 
11- and 12year-olds in the inner city will be recruited into 
participation in gangs and thereby be almost irremediably cut off 
from connection to legal employment.

In the most recent stage of these Oppressions, We have Petitioned for 
a change of orientation on the part of our fellow Americans by 
arguing that black lives matter, too: Our repeated Petitions have 
often been answered by repeated insult.

Such failures of reciprocity on the part of our fellow Americans call 
into question whether we the people are fit to govern ourselves as a 
free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our fellow Americans. We 
serve in the military; we vote at high rates; we meet massacres with 
calls for forgiveness. We have reminded them of the circumstances of 
our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native 
justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our 
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which inevitably 
interrupt our connections and correspondence. Episodically, our 
forefathers have pursued separation - whether in the case of African 
Americans who sought to return to Africa or segregationists who built 
a world of "separate but equal." We denounce such projects of 
separation and affirm the necessity of connection. We cannot be a 
people and be at war with ourselves; the War on Drugs must end.

We, therefore, a portion of the American people, appealing to the 
Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, 
out of respect for the Name and Authority of the good People of this 
Country, solemnly publish and declare, That the people of this 
country ought all to be connected to one another and equal; that all 
legislation erecting the War on Drugs, and turning the American 
people against one another, ought to be totally dissolved; that the 
free and independent states and territories have full power to pursue 
narcotics control through the tools of public health policy, instead 
of the criminal justice system; that the free and independent states 
and territories should so use their powers and do all other Acts and 
Things by which they may foster a people connected and equal.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the 
protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our 
Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom