Washington D.C. August 13, 2005 - Roberta Franklin is a no nonsense take charge type Sistah. She is a community activist and a radio talk show host on WAPZ 1250 AM in Montgomery, Alabama. Several years ago she became an advocate for prisoners' rights, sentencing reform and the re-enfranchisement of prisoners .
Through her efforts the state of Alabama reversed a law that disenfranchised prisoners. As a result Roberta decided to call for a national march and rally to focus attention on the bourgeoning Prison Industrial Complex, the inequities of the "Justice System", draconian sentencing laws and human rights abuses that occur on a regular basis throughout the United States.
The Journey For Justice is a grass roots movement that reached out and contacted prisoner right groups, legal and drug reform advocates and family members of incarcerated persons of all nationalities and ethnic groups. Roberta Franklin was able to galvanize a wide ranging network to commit to supporting the rally.
Groups such as: DRCNet, Drug Policy Alliance, Harm Reduction Coalition, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, The November Coalition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the US Marijuana Party and the Women's Organization for Drug Prohibition Reform, as well as groups such as Critical Resistance, which seeks to "abolish the prison-industrial complex," Morris Dees' Southern Poverty Law Center, the Southern Center for Human Rights, and Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
Die hard advocates converged on Washington D.C. and held a rally reception Friday evening and the rally itself at Lafayette Park across from the White House Saturday August 13th from 9 AM to 2 PM, braving one hundred plus degree heat to proclaim their solidarity and commitment to prison and human rights reform. One man, David Losa, a representative of Families To Amend California's Three Strikes, bicycled three thousand miles from Santa Barbara, California to Washington D.C. to protest California's 25 years to life, Three Strikes Felony Law.
The Journey was the trip to Washington D.C. for a rally and demonstration to link with like minded folks and develop strategies to fight for prison, sentencing and drug law reform in the U.S. Several hundred people came from all across the country to stand across from the White House to let the powers that be, although George W Bush was at his home in Crawford Texas, know they want fundamental change in the prison system and sentencing laws.
Efia Nwangaza of Greenville, South Carolina, is the National Co-chair of the JERICHO Movement to Free U.S. Political Prisoners. She came to support the Journey For Justice:
"I'm the national co-chair of the JERICHO Movement for recognition and amnesty for U.S political prisoners. We support the Journey because we recognize the hand that dealt the blow to political prisoners is the same hand that deals the blow to the prisoners of politics. It's apolitical decision as to what human behavior is criminal. And the behavior that has been chosen to be criminalized is that behavior which is perceived to disrupt the commercial interests of white male property owners and to threaten the structural mechanism which contains, controls and crushes dissent, and aims to crush the human spirit.
"We see the rise in fascism manifesting itself in the form of the PATRIOT ACT which is just a legitimizing of COINTELPRO, the unlawful campaign of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to crush progressive and revolutionary leadership in this country, to destroy the Black Panther Party, The Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican Independence Movement; they are the people that the JERICHO Movement represents."
Roberta Franklin was pleased with the turn out and participation, and is looking forward to next year for an even greater number of people participating. "I'm pleased with the response, the people who came out, the participation. This is a good start -- next year we will be even larger and we will keep coming back until we get what we want, which is a national agenda for justice, prison and sentencing reform.
For more information about Journey For Justice and Family Members and Friend of People Incarcerated, call (334) 220-4670 or see www.journeyforjustice.org.