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Letters to the Editors

'Drugs ain't white, drugs ain't black'

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

I have been active in the Wrice antidrug marches for many years in St. Petersburg. I have seen how they worked in my own neighborhood to take back the streets and make them safe once again for children to play in and for a neighborhood to flourish around. I've marched in my own neighborhood and I've marched in other neighborhoods.

The other night, I was in the march in south St. Petersburg, which got a lot of media coverage. When we are out marching, we do not respond to anything that dealers, buyers or just the "man on the street" may shout at us. We stay on message. We keep our focus.

In watching the media coverage of that march, one young man was interviewed and he said, "Why do they always pick on the black people? White people sell drugs. Why do they come after the black people?"

I want to tell that young man something, and the best way to do it is through the simple words of one of our drug-fighting chants: "Drugs ain't white, drugs ain't black, drugs just kill as a matter of fact." We march in predominantly white neighborhoods. We march in predominantly black neighborhoods. We hold vigils in front of crack houses with white dealers inside. We hold vigils in front of crack houses with black dealers inside. If there were a crack house with purple-skinned people, we'd be there.

My message to that young man is this: We aren't against you. We are against drugs. We are for you. We are for your neighborhood. We are for your children. We are for our city.

Another young man, who seemed intelligent, kept screaming, "Give us jobs! Give us jobs!" as if in answer to our "Up with hope! Down with dope!" chant. (One of our Wrice drug fighter "commandments" is that even if what someone shouts at us is true, we are still standing there on that night to take back the streets.)

I wanted to say to that kid, I would love to find you a job. I would love to solve all of society's problems. And when I get a chance, I try to. But of course, we can't do everything. Not all at once. The drug marches are about doing one thing: Taking back the streets for the residents.

Again I say: We are for you. The only thing we're against is drugs.
-- Edna Whisler, St. Petersburg

Antidrug rallies are indeed needed

Re: Activists take on the drug dealers in march, by Andrew Meacham, Feb. 24.

Antidrug marches with the chant "Up with hope! Down with dope!" are a terrific idea for a righteously indignant citizenry. Illegal drugs should be elevated from raised eyebrows and private conversation to public protest. When folks unite and demonstrate, their strength of conviction makes it overwhelmingly clear to drug dealers that they are not welcome in the community. Consensus counts.

Antidrug rallies are in order, and decent people must not close their eyes to the evil they see. It's a local disgrace to turn a blind eye to criminality. We must support our police. Perhaps the chant "Police are protected" would also be appropriate.

The starting point to progress is an aroused community. Everything is possible if we, the people, want it. That includes ending crime. People on a mission to solve a problem usually get positive results.
-- Robert B. Fleming, St. Petersburg

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