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Drugs, Race, and State Power: The Urban Terrain

  • Rae Banks
Chapter

Abstract

In the Fall of 1996, a series of articles in the San Jose Mercury News sparked the most sustained, broad-based protest of American drug policy in Black America’s history. The controversial series charged that the crack crisis that plagued black, largely urban communities beginning in the mid-1980s could be traced to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) complicity in the smuggling of cocaine into Los Angeles by allies of the Nicaraguan Contras—a militia trained, equipped, and supported by the Reagan administration.1 With the aid of the internet and talk radio, word of the allegations spread across the country inspiring community meetings, marches and demonstrations. Grassroots organizations and community activists voiced black America’s outrage. Established black organizations such as the NAACP, SCLC and the National Urban League weighed in, black leaders demanded an independent investigation of the allegations and the Congressional Black Caucus sponsored a forum in Washington, DC that drew an overflowing audience. And, in an unusual if not unprecedented move, John Deutch, then Director of the CIA, flew to California to address the community’s concerns in a forum held in South Central Los Angeles.2

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Notes

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© Gayle T. Tate and Lewis A. Randolph 2006

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  • Rae Banks

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