Rockefeller Drug Law Victory

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On April 24, 2009, Governor David Paterson signed into law significant reforms marking the beginning of the end of New York’s notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws.

The deal for reform came three weeks after the CA’s Drop the Rock Advocacy Day in Albany—where advocates delivered 30,000 petitions supporting repeal to Governor Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith— and only two days after a rally calling for the end of the drug laws outside of Governor Paterson’s New York City office. In a dramatic scene, over two hundred people gathered at the same site where in 2002, Paterson—at the time a State Senator from Harlem—was arrested in an act of civil disobedience aiming to put pressure on then-Governor George Pataki.

Many organizations and individuals participated in the collective effort that led to this victory for families and communities in New York, but one figure stands out: Assemblymember Jeffrion Aubry. “Aubry’s leadership over the past 15-plus years has been marked by courage, wisdom, impressive steadiness, and a smart, strategic sense. The dedication of his full heart and mind to the cause is inspiring, and was critical to the eventual effectiveness of our collective efforts,” says CA Executive Director Robert Gangi.