The US government under President Obama has worked to de-escalate the War on Drugs, an initiative started under Reagan which led to racially biased mass incarceration and was exemplified by mandatory minimum sentencing and Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign. As a new White House initiative poses to re-wage the War on Drugs, the Drug Policy Alliance has developed its own campaign: “Just Say No” to Jeff Sessions.
Sessions, of course, is a current Republican U.S. Senator President-Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, meaning he would oversee federal enforcement, including the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is mighty worrying to advocates of lenient drug policy, as Sessions has a history of supporting mandatory drug sentencing and outright racism.
“Jeff Sessions is a drug war extremist with a career-long history of racist comments and actions,” said Senior Director of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance Bill Piper. “In recent years, Sessions played a critical role in blocking efforts to reform sentencing policy, asset forfeiture, and marijuana laws. We will do everything we can to stop his confirmation.”
Sessions was rejected by the Reagan-era judiciary committee in 1986 because he was too extreme and racist even for them. He reportedly derided the NAACP as an un-American group that “forced civil rights down the throats of people,” called a black colleague “boy,” and said that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “was okay until I found out they smoked pot.” At the time, Senator Ted Kennedy, part of judiciary committee, said that Sessions was “a disgrace to the Justice Department.” Sessions was not confirmed then, but apparently he fits right into the Trump administration.
The good folks at the Drug Policy Alliance, in an effort to inform the public on Sessions’ extremism, has put together a video of the AG pick’s past misdeeds as well as a thoughtful look at what a future with him in power could look like, with the rights of minorities being trampled under greater surveillance and stop-and-frisk laws, as well as law-abiding legal immigrants facing deportation over drug offenses.
The DPA is far from the only organization opposing Sessions’ appointment. The NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and The Leadership Conference have all called for a delay in his hearing and recommended that the Senate Judiciary Committee to reject his nomination.
Session’s two-day confirmation hearing will begin Tuesday and he is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled committee. You can see the video from DPA and filmmaker dream hampton below.