Episode 53 - Let’s Pass a Law Together!

<span style="display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0;" data-mce-type="bookmark" class="mce_SELRES_start"> </span> Transcript, Web links and Credits below.

Transcript: If you are listening to this podcast, there is a high likelihood that you hate mass incarceration and that you love equality, human rights, and civil rights. You’ve probably heard me say this before, but when it comes to confronting injustice in the world, when it comes to tearing down the old systems and building new ones, we’re more outraged than we are organized. Well, today I’m gonna help organize us, okay? We’re going to help pass a law together and we have until Wednesday to do it. Let’s dig in. This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)! ---- Every year in the United States, people cycle in and out of jails and prisons over 10 million times. What we’ve all come to know and understand is that this system is not broken, it’s functioning exactly as it was built, designed, and intended to function. It’s not broken – it’s firing on all cylinders. It took hundreds and hundreds of years to build this system. It’s not new. It’s old. Each previous generation added their own forms of bigotry, discrimination, inequality, and bias to it. The system we have right now, we call it the justice system, but it’s not just. That’s a really a bad name for it -- this system, this incarceration system, this punishment system. In order for it to be torn down, we must tear it down piece by piece, state by state, county by county, city by city, law by law. Because that’s how it’s built. It’s built locally, and it must be confronted and torn down locally.

We have three days to tear down a massive piece of the incarceration system in this nation, and I need all hands on deck, okay? This is a little different than how we normally do the order of the show, but right now I have our first action step, okay? (ACTION STEPS music) I need you to go TheBreakdownCrew.com and fill out this quick form for me, okay? We’re going to build this audience into a tribe, but I can’t do it properly without this step. I need everybody listening to us right now to go to TheBreakdownCrew.com and fill out this form. I’ll never share or sell this information. It’s secure. Nobody will see it but me, but I have to be able to email you, call you, and text you directly for what we’re about to do to work.

Go ahead and hit the pause button, then go to TheBreakdownCrew.com and fill out this form. This all about us being as organized as we are outraged, and I need to form this audience into a potent force. So go now to TheBreakdownCrew.com and fill that out. You got it? Did you sign up? If so, you should get a reply from me in your inbox, okay? Now let me tell you what we’re about to do,and we have just three days to get this done, so we literally have to get to work right away. For the first time in generations, New York has a Democratic Governor, a Democratic state assembly, and a Democratic state senate. This is the first year that New York has had an entirely democratic state line up, and it’s actually one of just a few states in the entire country that has that right now.

The New York legislative session actually ends this Wednesday night. Now you may not live in New York, but let me explain why what I am about to tell you matters so much. First and foremost, systems of mass incarceration are built on the state and local level, so we must fight for change on those levels. The state of New York has nearly 20 million residents. New York City alone, which is the largest city in the nation, has 9 million residents. What that also means is that New York City and New York state consistently have one of the largest systems of mass incarceration in the nation. This week we have a chance to tear a major plank of that system down.

No state has arrested more people, almost exclusively Black and Brown people, for possession of marijuana than New York. Even after countless policies have passed, tens of thousands of people per year, almost exclusively Black and Latino people, are still cited and arrested for it. Even though study after study shows that white people smoke weed at the same rate as Black and Latino folk, nearly 90% of the arrests continue to be of people of color.What we see right now is that while other states legalize marijuana, and the same people who once called for harsh laws criminalizing it are now getting rich off of it, New York has been in a holding pattern.

Here’s the thing – right now, there's a strong bill that I greatly approve of, waiting to be approved by the state's lawmakers. This bill will not only legalize marijuana but will also do the hard work of righting the wrongs that the War on Drugs caused in New York. It’s called the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act of 2019. We call it MRTA, and it’s the strongest bill in New York to begin righting the wrongs the state has done on weed for generation after generation. Over the past 48 hours, I’ve now talked directly with a dozen lawmakers in New York who have all said they are ready to pass it. But they’re also saying that Governor Andrew Cuomo won’t sign it. The current bill does something beautiful and it’s necessary that we demand that it passes. The current bill re-directs a percentage of the tax revenues from the legalization of weed back into the communities that have been most impacted by the War on Drugs. This is a no-brainer,but he’s telling people behind the scenes that he wants all of the money to go into the general budget. So let me break down what we’re going to do, okay? (BREAK IT DOWN MUSIC) I’ve done this before, and it helped us pass a law in New York called Raise The Age, but I’ve never done it on such a short schedule. Once you sign up for TheBreakdownCrew.com, I’m going to email you a contact list and I need you to start putting in some real work immediately, okay? I need you to call every single person on that list. I need you to email every single person on that list,and I need you to tweet every single person on that list. I need us to ask them to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pass the MRTA – that’s the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act. They only have until Wednesday to get it done. It needs to be passed in the Assembly and it needs to be passed in the Senate. No bill will do more to right the wrongs of the War on Drugs than this bill. Ten states have already passed a bill like this, and it’s time that New York joins them. We’re going to work on this every day this week until it gets done, okay? Let’s GO. Go to TheBreakdownCrew.com now and I’ll email you the next steps. ----- Thank you all for making it all the way through this episode of The Breakdown! If you haven’t already subscribed to our podcast, we’ll be right back here every single weekday, breaking down important news stories and issues, and we’d love for you to subscribe on your favorite podcast apps like Apple Podcasts or Spotify. Please share this podcast with your friends and family. Our next goal is to get to 100,000 subscribers and we won’t get there without you! Have you left a review yet? On Apple Podcasts we now have over 8,000 5 star reviews, but we’re aiming for 10,000 – so we still want to hear from you so please leave your best review when you get time. Thank you so much to the nearly 30,000 founding members of The North Star whose generosity even makes this podcast possible. Love y’all and appreciate you so much. If you love this podcast and want to support our work – or want to see the show notes and transcript for each episode – we’d love it if you considered becoming a founding member of our community at TheNorthStar.com. There we not only have our podcasts, but hundreds of original articles and stories and commentaries from some of the leading scholars and thinkers and journalists in the world. Lastly, a shout out to our Associate Producer Lyssandra and Podcasting Director and Senior Producer, Willis, for their hard work on this and every episode. Take care everybody. ----- Credits: Produced by Willis Polk II Additional Instrumentation by Christian “Idrys” Shannon, Lance “Lance Fur” Powlis & Markeith Black Additional Engineering by Amond “AJ” Jackson for Salem Psalms Library Additional Vocals by Garnett “Natti” Bush, Jason Coffey and Miranda Scratches by Kenny “DJ FlipFlop” Vanderberg