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Art Way Jr

Dreamer + Doer

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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.

Featured

This Week | Nov 19

Featuring Mara Gordon

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!


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GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

ReleafApp – https://releafapp.com/
Frere Cheramie – https://www.frerecheramie.com/
Nugtopia Art – https://nugtopia.net/
Chef Sebastian Carosi – https://www.instagram.com/chef_sebast…
Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
Trichom Health Center – https://www.trichomhealthcenter.com/
The Grateful Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/thegratefulv…
Mr Boomers Magic Kitchen – https://www.instagram.com/cannabenoid…
Magical Butter – https://www.magicalbutter.com/
True Terpenes – https://trueterpenes.com/

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This Week | Nov 12

Featuring Mara Gordon

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!


November 12th, 2020

Nancy Moss sits down with the one and only, Mara Gordon. They discuss activism and advocacy of cannabis plant medicine. Part 1


GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

ReleafApp – https://releafapp.com/
Frere Cheramie – https://www.frerecheramie.com/
Nugtopia Art – https://nugtopia.net/
Chef Sebastian Carosi – https://www.instagram.com/chef_sebast…
Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
Trichom Health Center – https://www.trichomhealthcenter.com/
The Grateful Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/thegratefulv…
Mr Boomers Magic Kitchen – https://www.instagram.com/cannabenoid…
Magical Butter – https://www.magicalbutter.com/
True Terpenes – https://trueterpenes.com/

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This Week | Nov 5

Featuring Dr Janice Knox + Jahan Marcu

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GRAM has gone LIVE! Featuring writers, scientists, government officials, plant medicine specialists, celebrities, front line workers, cannabis experts, hemp farmers, researchers, and so much more through fresh video content. COVID 19 has caused us to think outside the box until we can put our magazines into stores again, we bring you GRAM LIVE!


November 5th, 2020

Our very own, Nurse Jordan Person sits down with the incredible Dr. Janice Knox. Not only is she a Board Certified Anesthesiologist, and Endocannbinologist, or Cannabinoid Medicine Specialist. Listen to her advice to medical cannabis patients and fellow medical practitioners, and learn more about the incredible medical practice she has started with her family of physicians.


We welcome Jahan Marcu. He is the Editor in Chief for the American Journal of Endocannabinoid Medicine and a founding partner of Marcu and Arora. Listen in as our own, Nurse Jordan Person talks with Jahan about what led him to a life of Endocannabinoid science and medicine, how he became the Editor in Chief for the AJEM, and what his future plans are for his new consulting company.


GRAM This Week is sponsored by…

ReleafApp – https://releafapp.com/
Frere Cheramie – https://www.frerecheramie.com/
Nugtopia Art – https://nugtopia.net/
Chef Sebastian Carosi – https://www.instagram.com/chef_sebast…
Primal Therapeutics – https://cannabismassagecolorado.com/
Trichom Health Center – https://www.trichomhealthcenter.com/
The Grateful Veteran – https://www.facebook.com/thegratefulv…
Mr Boomers Magic Kitchen – https://www.instagram.com/cannabenoid…
Magical Butter – https://www.magicalbutter.com/
True Terpenes – https://trueterpenes.com/

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