Drop the Rock Empowerment Day Statewide Action Against the Rockefeller Drug Laws

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On October 4, the CA’s Drop the Rock campaign to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws—New York’s wasteful, ineffective, and racially-biased sentencing policies—organized its first-ever Empowerment Day. Over 150 volunteers turned out early on a Saturday morning to canvass neighborhoods across the state and motivate New Yorkers to take action against the laws. Participants registered over 400 people to vote and collected over 5,000 signatures for the 35th Year Petition, which marks the laws’ 35th anniversary and calls on Governor David Paterson and other policymakers to support repeal.

Empowerment Day specifically focused on building strength in disenfranchised communities, providing what Taren Tyler, a Drop the Rock intern who volunteered in East Harlem, called “a first-hand tutorial on the drug laws.”

“These communities have historically been disenfranchised. When it comes to voting and the whole political process, they are mainly out of the loop,” explained Taren. “We emphasized the importance of getting involved in Drop the Rock’s activities now, and spread the word that many people who committed a crime still have the right to vote.”

Caitlin Dunklee, Drop the Rock Coordinator, commented on the event’s impressive turnout. “Leaders from over 20 neighborhoods partnered with Drop the Rock to foster awareness and political leverage in their areas through public education, petitioning, and voter registration,” she said. “This dramatic statewide response is evidence that the repeal of the Rockefeller Drug Laws is a top priority for New Yorkers.”