Recently GRAM sat down with Art Way Jr. owner of Equitable Consulting, the former Colorado State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and police accountability advocate for the last 20 years. We wanted to hear his story and his thoughts on the civil rights movement currently taking place.
“From the very beginning this country was built upon slavery and genocide, if you have a foundation like that, you simply won’t unwind from that because you pass Federal anti-discrimination acts. They say if you are in a bad relationship for 10 years, it will take you at least 5 years to overcome the trauma and negativity that it caused you. When you look at that in comparison to what has happened to black and brown people in America, it’s a toxic fucked up relationship for four centuries. It’s ingrained. It’s only been 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and it’s only been 50 years since the last civil rights movement of the 60’s. This shit is going to take time. We are no longer dealing with issues of law and policy anymore. We are dealing with an ingrained culture.”
Art Way Jr. grew up in Colorado, in a neighborhood called Five Points and another called Park Hill. “I remember when officers used to wear penny loafers. When I was real young, I even remember them playing basketball with us, or playing football with us for a little bit. During that time, I remember being able to call a police officer to help you get a cat out of a tree. Then, when mass incarceration began to ramp up, they were no longer throwing balls around, they were throwing us around. I was 15 in 1986 when things really went sideways, and police really started to be more about drugs and addiction, and federal dollars to engage in the drug war, as opposed to being civil servants.”
Art grew up and went to school at Colorado University in Denver and received a degree in history. He then went to the Florida Coastal School of Law to receive his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree. Art had a calling for equality and justice. His career eventually led him to the Colorado Progressive Coalition. From 2008-2011, he served as the Racial Justice Director and ran their racial justice program that was focused on police accountability. “A lot of the work I did for that organization was in regards to looking to minimize the over criminalization of the black and brown communities through police accountability, so it was a natural intersection with the broader drug war. My work with CPC kind of put me on the map and in the right place to take on the job with DPA.” Art tells us.
“We ran a hotline for police brutality, where people were allowed to call in and make complaints against arresting officers, a lot of it was direct service in that manner. I traveled all over the front range and helped people file complaints and then follow up on those complaints. I worked a lot with the Office of the Independent Monitor and the City of Denver, and the Citizen Oversight Board, and I was also able to force some legislation that attempted to really change police culture,” explains Art.
“When a lot of people tried to assert their fourth amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures and say no to a search, that’s when things would usually turn bad. So we were able to put forth legislation that essentially said that if an officer does not have probable cause to search someone, and instead is asking someone for consent, which is essentially that person waving their 4th amendment right, they have to tell the person they have the right to say no. At the time, it was maybe the second piece of police accountability legislation that had ever really passed in Colorado. It was the first consent search legislation of its kind that also covered pedestrians as well as motorists.”
“Looking back and where we are now, we are actually at the ten year anniversary of that legislation and honestly, it seems kind of light weight. The goal was to slowly change the police culture, and remind them that people have constitutional rights and people have a right to tell police no. Many times, in the case of racial profiling, a lot of the pretextual stops and searches that were going on were products of the drug war and police looking for contraband and that was really a large part of the reason racial profiling was so rampant, and we just wanted to slow that reality down a little bit. It was also an educational tool to remind people of their rights. We did a lot of ‘know your rights’ training in conjunction with that.”
The goal was to slowly change the police culture, and remind them that people have constitutional rights and people have a right to tell police no.
“I learned real quickly, even though I fell in love right then and there with legislative work, that it is really more about watchdogging a situation, it is not just about the legislation passing, especially if you are trying to police the police. It is one thing to get a bill passed, but then you truly have to stay on it; you have to watch closely; you have to reach out to the Attorney General’s office and make sure it is being watched properly. It is one thing to get a bill passed through the legislature, but it’s another thing that it actually changes the culture. When it comes to police accountability as well as the recent legislation here in Colorado (SB217), the goal is to change the culture. All of that is such a big lesson that I take with me throughout the rest of my social justice career,” Art tells us.
“Right before I left CPC for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA,) we had started focusing on DA’s (District Attorney’s) and their behavior in basically allowing police to behave how they behaved. I was happy that 6 or 7 years later, DA’s really became a focal point, and people really began holding them accountable as part of police bureaucracy.” Art explains. Police bureaucracy is something that has been happening for centuries.
DPA expanded in 2011 to Colorado, as the 5th state to have an office. The timing was perfect. They already had offices in New Jersey, New Mexico, California, and New York. “It definitely coincided with the time of Amendment 64, the recreational legalization of cannabis in Colorado. DPA was about harm reduction, broader criminal justice reform in regards to drug policy, so that was the trifecta I found myself in.”
Organized policing was one of the many types of social controls imposed on enslaved African Americans. “My great grandfather and people like him were just killed and thrown in ditches and hidden and never talked about, then during the drug war they were able to kill us on camera with no problem,” says Art. “When it coms to slavery, the essence of it, and the residual of it, it remains in the police force to this day. That is how people need to look at it, we need to stop with this “bad apple” bullshit, it’s not about bad apples. It’s about a fucked up, permeating, and pervasive culture that ruins all the apples once they get into it. We are in this now for a marathon. Simply changing laws and policy is not going to change what has been ingrained into this country.
“The protests reflect the frustration, and protests may or may not always lead to policy change. But, the overall goal with social justice is to change people’s paradigm. These protests really reflect that changing paradigm and the shift and change that is currently happening. In 20 years of being a police accountability advocate, I never even thought about a police reform bill at the Federal level. It never even crossed my mind, now there are a couple of bills. One is being pushed in the House and one in the Senate. What is great about these protests right now, is that young people can take the lead, and the old folks like me can finally sit down and shut up a little bit, and learn from these young people that everything is possible,” says Art.
“The most influential policy change that can happen in regards to police accountability is definitely disbanding or defunding the police. This is not saying that we will not have anymore police. It is saying let’s sit down at the table and forget how much money we are going to give you all, and for what. Let’s figure out your hiring practices, and let’s get back to being civil servants, and peace keepers instead of some militarized force. We have gutted our mental health and behavioral health systems for the last 50 years. They (police) are doing things they are not trained to do. If we put money into an actual safety net to take care of our most vulnerable then we wouldn’t have created this huge system of mass incarceration, and having police dealing with things they really shouldn’t be dealing with.”
“Drugs and addiction, whether legal or illegal, is one of the biggest markets in the world. It costs money to fight it, and it creates bureaucracy, and it creates corruption, and it’s the reason law enforcement has lost touch. Thinking back to the 19th century officer, Sir Robert Peel and the policing policies he created back then, that is the kind of policing we need to get back to. He was considered the ‘Father of Modern Policing.’ Officers needed direction and needed to know what to do, and so he created guidelines for officers to follow.”
Start locally, defunding the police is a local issue.
People throughout this country are confused, frustrated, and scared, and many just want to know where to turn their energy and efforts to in order to advance this movement. Art recommends, “Start locally, defunding the police is a local issue, more than it is a state issue. Check out Campaign Zero for resources, they are an excellent place to start. Some areas may not be ready for that conversation yet but what they do have to discuss with you is local policy. I think city council and county commissioners are your first goals, you can go to them and demand that the local police force revise their use of force policy. Get rid of the choke holds, no longer allow the doctrine that allows lethal force, and use of force.”
“I also suggest people start to work with behavioral and public health organizations and think about how we can change the police’s rules of engagement, and what they are actually there to do. Mental health professionals will often respond with an officer, so that part of the public health community really needs to speak up. They are the best group of people to help identify where the money should be reallocated to if the police are defunded. They should be at the front of the conversation. We need to get back to a culture of de-escalation and providing services instead of that command and control culture. If all cities want is arrests, and fines and fees, then that will be difficult. Right now they have an opportunity to be real allies and make real change possible.”
Be open to hearing one another; be open to what we are seeing; minimize the cynicism, and really dream big. Ultimately, that is what everyone needs to do. If you never dream big, then big things won’t happen.
The recent events of peaceful protests around the nation seem to be having an effect. At least here in Colorado with the passing of “SB 217, Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity.” When it came time for the Senate and House to hear the bill, testimonies from people in the community came pouring in. One of those people that went on record was Mr. Way. “I told them my story, I told them that I have been a victim of police abuse since I was 11 years old. I have had a gun put to my head three times in my life, and the first time was at 11 years old and it was by a police officer. He was doing it simply because he could. So I told those lawmakers my story that day; I let them know that everything within SB217 was long overdue and that nothing should be considered radical. Essentially, I explained that the police had been running amuck for years and that it was time for change,” said Art. He adds, “There needs to be an organization formed to engage and be a serious watchdog over the next two or three years to ensure that the policy changes from SB217 really becomes implemented.”
If your goal is to make the world a better place to live in for yourself and for your children, and your children’s children, please listen to these sage words of advice: “Get out of our comfort zones, have those uncomfortable conversations with the people in your family and your kids that need to hear them. We need to do what we can to shape each other’s paradigm. We need to look at what is needed, from a social justice perspective, to actually make the world a better place. We need to bring forth the ideals of our constitution and bring back the ideas that started this country and once made it great. Get out of your comfort zone. Be open to hearing one another; be open to what we are seeing; minimize the cynicism, and really dream big. Ultimately, that is what everyone needs to do. If you never dream big, then big things won’t happen.”
9 Policing Principles
as written by Sir Robert Peel
- To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
- To recognize always that the power of the police to fulfill their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behavior, and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
- To recognize always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
- To recognize always that the extent to which the cooperation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
- To seek and preserve public favor, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolute impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humor, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
- To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public cooperation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
- To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
- To recognize always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
- To recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.
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Turmeric is a root vegetable commonly used as a spice in various Indian and other cultures’ dishes. Turmeric is in the zingiberaceae family, as is ginger. The turmeric plant is native to the southeastern region of Asia and commonly harvested in places like India, Sri Lanka, China, Indonesia, and Taiwan. It is responsible for curry’s signature orange color, and its vibrant pigment will give essentially any meal an orange hue.
Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin, and curcumin has been shown through research to offer anti-inflammatory and other therapeutic benefits. The scientific name for the turmeric plant is Curcuma Longa, and likely where the name curcumin comes from. When people are talking about the health benefits of turmeric, they are referencing curcumin so you may hear the two names used interchangeably. Curcumin is part of a group called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the most active and the most beneficial for health. Flavonoids are another substance found in various plants and give these plants their color. Curcumin is a flavonoid and is responsible for providing that bright orange color to turmeric. In addition to providing aesthetic value, flavonoids are also strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
The Journal of Biological Chemistry published a study done by Sanjaya Singh and Bharat B. Aggarwal of the Cytokine Research Laboratory at the world-renowned cancer hospital, M.D. Anderson. The study found that curcumin suppressed NF-κB, a protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory responses. In other words, turmeric shuts off the body’s inflammatory response. Anti-inflammatories can be beneficial for many different ailments, including chronic pain and digestive disorders. A lot of CBD companies even put curcumin in their products because of its benefits. It is believed to be a synergistic pair with complementary therapeutic properties. The thought is that the two plant medicines are powerful on their own; as a combination, they can deliver even more anti-inflammatory and medicinal benefits.
Many people simply add turmeric to their dishes as a way to easily incorporate it into their daily routine. It is pretty mild in flavor and can be added to many dishes without changing the overall taste too drastically. Some say that turmeric isn’t strong enough on its own to receive the anti-inflammatory properties that curcumin provides, and therefore recommend a curcumin supplement. Research varies on that, so in the end it is just up to personal preference and your doctor’s approval. Curcumin supplements come most available in capsules. Pregnant women can safely use turmeric as an addition to their food, but should avoid taking high-dosage supplements. Those who are interested in supplementing with curcumin products should talk with their doctor first.
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center did another study in 2007 exploring curcumin for cancer treatment. The study found that curcumin inhibits ovarian cancer growth and angiogenesis (the development of new blood vessels). It does this by targeting and manipulating the NF-κB pathway, the same protein complex responsible for controlling inflammatory response. According to a report published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, “The nuclear factor NF-κB pathway has long been considered a prototypical proinflammatory signaling pathway, largely based on the role of NF-κB in the expression of proinflammatory genes including cytokines, chemokines, and adhesion molecules.”
The trend with curcumin seems to be it’s ability to control inflammatory responses in the body. It does this by multiple pathways, but a commonly researched one is the NF-κB protein complex. Because this pathway is able to be manipulated by curcumin to encourage anti-inflammatory expressions, its potential for successfully treating various ailments is there.
Psilocybin + Magic Mushrooms
When many think of plant medicine, specifically those plants with psychoactive effects, they think of “magic mushrooms,” or fungi containing psilocybin and psilocin that can cause hallucinations depending on the dosage consumed. In many states, there are active efforts to decriminalize these otherwise scheduled substances, lowering penalties for their use and possession. But what value do psilocybin-containing mushrooms offer? New research suggests a range of therapeutic and psychological value ranging from the treatment of substance abuse to anxiety and depression management.
What are Magic Mushrooms?
Magic Mushroom use dates back to 10,000 BCE and references continue throughout the era. Their modern popularity began when the term “magic mushroom” was coined by two etnomycologists who learned of a Harvard study on local doctors in Mexico using these substances, noting the substance’s ability to affect the nervous system. These findings were eventually published in Life magazine in 1957, and the term became the universal reference for psychoactive fungi and truffles, specifically those containing high concentrations of psilocybin and psilocin.
Psilocybin & Psilocin: The “Magic” in Magic Mushrooms
Psilocybin and psilocin are part of a family of psychedelic compounds found in magic mushrooms. Psilocin is pharmacologically active, and psilocybin is converted into psilocin when consumed or activated. Similar in structure to serotonin, there are more than 50 species of mushrooms and a variety of truffles that produce both the precursor, psilocybin, and the psychoactive compound, psilocin. Unlike LSD, magic mushrooms do not affect dopamine receptors, solely targeting serotonin sites.
How are Magic Mushrooms used?
Magic mushrooms are often used for recreational, therapeutic and medicinal reasons. “Effects range from mild feelings of relaxation, giddiness, euphoria, visual enhancement (seeing colors brighter), visual disturbances (moving surfaces, waves), to delusions, altered perception of real events, images and faces, or real hallucinations.” Recreationally, this is often known as “tripping.” As an alternative health option, these fungi are being used for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and trauma, as well as psychological disorders such as substance abuse disorders, and science is beginning to back the potential for these applications.
Research on Mushrooms
Evaluations of currently available scientific studies suggest a growing number of therapeutic benefits and treatment options. “In the past few years, a growing number of studies using human volunteers have begun to explore the possible therapeutic benefits of drugs such as psilocybin…looking at psilocybin and other hallucinogens to treat a number of otherwise intractable psychiatric disorders, including chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and drug or alcohol dependency.”
Magic mushrooms have been respected as a “safe & natural healing sacrament for millennia throughout Mexico, Central America and the world,” and are known to be beneficial for depression, recidivism (the tendency to repeat past transgressions), and encourages openness, creativity, as well as personal and spiritual growth. UCLA and NYC have done studies on the applications of magic mushrooms in the treatment of end-of-life anxiety and other studies have backed up the use of psilocybin and psilocin in the treatment of substance use disorders, depression (especially in cases of terminal conditions like cancer as well as treatment-resistant depression), and reducing depression and anxiety overall.
Best way for people to consume?
When it comes to the consumption of mushrooms, advice on dosage is about as specific as it was with cannabis under prohibition. Consumers must purchase on the black market and are subject to whatever may be available.
“Recreational doses range from 1–5 grams of dry mushrooms depending on the species and individual strength of the specimens… After ingestion, the psilocybin is enzymatically converted to psilocin. Absorbed from the gastro-intestinal tract, hallucinogenic effects usually occur within 30 minutes of ingestion with a duration of effect of 4–6 hours.”
My recommendation as someone who has used magic mushrooms both for recreational and therapeutic purposes, is to grind the mushrooms into a fine powder and either encapsulate them in small increments and/or combine with lemon juice. Capsules will allow you to titrate your dosage as needed with a recognizable increment, while lemon juice will expedite onset time.
The Legality of Magic Mushrooms
In the United States, psilocybin is a Schedule I controlled substance, with no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. In contrast, the Drug Policy Alliance states that “Physically, psilocybin mushrooms are considered to be one of the least toxic drugs known.” With that being said, local efforts such as Decriminalize Nature – Oakland and Decriminalize Denver have pushed for and successfully passed initiatives and legislation to reduce penalties and make enforcement a low priority, as was done in the early days of cannabis activism. This has spurred multiple local and international efforts to “Decriminalize Nature,” efforts that we learn more about in this month’s feature.