Beloved Partners–Friends, 

I barely have breath, let alone words this morning as we awaken to yet another police killing. I’ve been in one organization or another since 1989 that demanded an end to this and despite all I know and have seen, even I am stunned. And grieving. And enraged. 

The work we do at the intersection of the drug policy and Black freedom movements demands that we be neither silent nor still. Drug war policies are only among the more recent in a series of policies designed to criminalize and kill Black and Brown people and call it our fault. We will hear many things about both Alton Sterling and Philando Castile–I’ve already heard about weed in the car Castile was in when he was executed in front of his girlfriend and 4 year old daughter.  Read more…

But make no mistake. Neither of these men nor the men, women and children who preceded them in this cacophony of blood and violence and hate, were ever killed for any reason other than that they were Black. Take a moment and recall the Colorado killer more armed than a troop in an active theater of war and how he was taken in uninjured. Or the Charleston killer eating fast food after executing praying people. 

How we think most deeply about doing this this work in consideration of the most vulnerable is incumbent upon us all. And as we do that, how we care for ourselves actively, is also incumbent.  Check in one on another.  Check in with yourselves. Reach out to me directly if it would help for me to get us all together before I leave on the 15th to talk, cry, think and breathe together. 

The great journalist and advocate, Ida B Wells, reminded us a century ago that a new name was given to the killings and a new excuse was invented for doing so. 

She was right.  And as painful as that is, what gives me hope is knowing that each of you exists and has the power to demand and help stop the excuses, end the killings and ensure we live in a world where every life does indeed have value.  Where Black Lives Matter. 

There’s a lot before all of us. A lot of work. A lot of healing but on this morning standing on a street corner in mid Manhattan and heading to my first meeting of the day, I wanted to reach out and say your lives and the lives of your children, the ones we have and the ones we’ve lost, matter. 


asha bandele

Senior Director, Grants, Partnerships and Special Projects
Drug Policy Alliance
131 West 33rd Street
15th Floor
NY, NY 10001
646.541.9499 mobile / text
Thank you for joining us at Reform 2015 and 
See You in Atlanta in October 2017!