As he did in 2004 with same-sex marriage, Mayor Gavin Newsom again took a courageous stand on an important issue last week by speaking out forcefully against the "War on Drugs."
"You want to reduce crime in this country by 70 percent overnight? End this 'War on Drugs,'" Newsom declared. "This 'War on Drugs' is an abject failure."
Yet as Supervisor Chris Daly points out, Newsom's actions have so far not matched his rhetoric. "His police department is under orders to aggressively enforce drug crimes," Daly noted. "He's endorsed Hilary Clinton, who I don't think supports the repeal of the War on Drugs."
Nevertheless, the mayor did indirectly attack politicians like Clinton, telling reporters, "Shame on my party, the Democratic Party" who lack the courage to speak out against the 'Drug War' for fear of appearing "weak." And it is Newsom, not Daly and the so-called "progressives" on the Board of Supervisors, who has put the issue in the limelight.
Also to be commended is Sheriff Michael Hennessey, who quickly backed up Newsom's claim that ending the 'Drug War' would reduce crime by 70 percent with hard data.
"I've got two thousand people in jail today, and 45 percent of them have a drug charge. Then I have another 20 or 25 percent of the people in jail who are in for burglary, auto theft, credit card theft, things like that who have an underlying substance abuse problem. So I would say 60 to 75 percent of the crimes are drug related," Hennessey told a reporter. "The 'War on Drugs' is not working because we are relying on law enforcement instead of treatment."
The question now is will these officials take action, or are they all talk? Newsom should immediately direct Police Chief Fong to have the SFPD stop arresting people on drug charges. Hennessey should immediately release all prisoners in jail on drug charges into drug treatment programs. Daly and his colleagues should pass a resolution urging the mayor and law enforcement to bring 'Drug Peace' to our city.
Vice Chair, Libertarian Party of San Francisco