Randy Credico is a former comedian turned political activist/drug law reformer who has worked as Director for the William Moses Knustler Fund for Racial Justice the past 12 years.
Now, he'd like to take on and challenge Senator Chuck Schumer for his seat in the Senate.
Part 1 of my interview with Randy can be seen here:
Kathleen Wells: I can hear the critics, and they would say that drug use causes a lot of crime in society, a lot of violence in society.
Randy Credico: Well, it does. The illegality of it is what creates the crime. If there was no money to be made off the drug trade, if, in fact, it was legal, those Mexican cartels wouldn't be able to accumulate the kind of money, hence the power to corrupt the legislature and the police force and commit heinous crimes. That's only because they've got the money resulting from the prohibition here.
That's one of the reasons. Another one is we don't have the resources to be prosecuting people for these crimes. Correctional Corporation, which maintains and builds and services prisons -- their stock has gone up over 140% in a year and three-month period of time [the time that Obama has been in office]. You've got three million people in prison. It's outrageous.
Kathleen Wells: Okay, so let's go to the federal level. We talked about the state level, where we have the Rockefeller drug laws. But on the federal level, under the current federal law, a first-time simple possession of five grams of crack cocaine requires the same five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence as a person in possession of 500 grams of powder cocaine. In other words, a person would need to have 100 times more powder cocaine than crack cocaine to be penalized the same.
This was signed into law in 1986 by then President Reagan. It was the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. And the act established mandatory sentencing minimums including five-to-ten year minimums for distribution of illegal drugs and/or importation.
What we have today, moving it on up, is that black folks comprise 25% of crack cocaine users, but yet they account for 82% of all people in prison populations convicted of crack-cocaine offenses. So talk to me about how this federal law has jurisdiction over many of the folks convicted for crack-cocaine offenses. In other words, how does it trickle down to the states, this federal law?
Randy Credico: If [the feds] go into a project [with] a bunch of federal agents - say there are 40 kids working together with a gram of cocaine a week or whatever or crack -- they get all 40 at one time, a big sweep and they netted very little cocaine, but they just added 40 people into the criminal justice system. And that's how they work.
The state can get you too on that. The State can get you up to nine years for selling a dime bag of crack. [At the] federal level, you've got that five-year minimum. And so they usually pick and choose who's gonna take jurisdiction when they're collaborating on a case.
This woman I know got 15 years-to-life for having four ounces of cocaine at J. F. Kennedy Airport in 1989. She was a mule, and [at] the state [level] you get 15-to-life. [With] the feds it was barely a crime -- less than five years. So the state took it over, and they put this mother of five in prison - Melita Oliviera - for 15 years and destroyed all six of her kids' lives.
Kathleen Wells: What was her name again?
Randy Credico: Melita Oliviera. Peruvian. Just coming back and somebody gave her stuff to carry, and she even showed it to the customs guys, and her life was a nightmare. They offered her three years in prison, [but] when she went to be sentenced, [thinking she'd] come back to finish cooking, the next thing you know she's in a maximum security prison, with murderers, for 15 years. She got out on clemency. It was a case that we worked on, and she got out in 2001.
Kathleen Wells: So why is there that disparity between crack-cocaine and powder cocaine?
Randy Credico: Because of racism. Remember, when the Rockefeller drug laws went into effect in '73, [they were] also for marijuana. But Wall Street guys, rich people -- their kids were smoking pot, and they had to change that immediately. So pot was not put on the same level. Possession of a small amount of pot is not a crime in New York. Smoking a joint in public is a $100 fine, but you get arrested if you're black and you smoke pot in New York. It happens a lot. And they shake people down -- 570,000 unprovoked stop and frisks without probable cause by the police in New York. That's the ones that were recorded.
I hate using the word "ethnic cleansing," but it has that smell to it. And a lot of people feel that we are in a police state on every level with the drug laws, with the Patriot Act, Homeland Security, FBI, IRS -- there are so many levels of law enforcement in the United States that ICE -- the racist ICE Units, it's a policy that we have. Schumer hasn't been good on that as well.
On a federal level, Schumer, the death penalty, which is racist, we know it's racist. We've got a Supreme Court that upholds racist laws just like it did under Roger Taney in the Dred Scott decision that 8-to-1 decision.
Kathleen Wells: Now today, as you mentioned before, that disparity, that sentencing disparity was 100-to-1. But today Senator Durbin has drafted or sponsored legislation which would reduce it to 18-to-1. Now, initially he tried to get 1-to-1. He tried to eliminate the disparity in its entirety, make it equal, 1-to-1. However, Chuck Schumer voted against that decision to make it equal, on par, 1-to-1. Talk to me about this fact that Schumer voted against that. [The Bill modifying the ratio from 100:1 to 18:1 has passed the Senate and is now in the House.]
Randy Credico: Well, Schumer won't even sign on as a sponsor of this bill, 18-to-1. He'll vote for it. It's gonna go through 'cause it's part of a spending bill. But he's a really bad drug-war hustler. He had a press conference yesterday to get more money to stop the importation of drugs from Canada. It's such a waste of time to get more money for law enforcement up there to track down people. It's really like taking a shotgun and then trying to kill all the flies in a room. It's a Popeye episode.
So Schumer is not good on race issues. He's bad on the death penalty, he's a law-and-order guy, and he's got no blacks or Latinos in his office in New York or Washington. He doesn't care. You know what I mean? He's tied into the law enforcement guys. He gets money from Wall Street. He's into the prison-industrial complex. Well, it's blacks going to jail, you know. That's really a code word for "Let's put the blacks in prison." Being tough on drugs -- that's what it is - a code word.
Kathleen Wells: And so you want to play this game? You want to be a part of this system?
Randy Credico: No, listen. Here's what I want to do. I want to test it. I want to put a mirror in its face. If I win, I'm certainly not going to be a Schumer. I'm going to be true to my principles. I don't have a machine behind me. Barack Obama had a machine behind him.
Kathleen Wells: But you'll be one person in D. C.
Randy Credico: Well, maybe it will encourage other people to run. Now, do you know what happened in Massachusetts in 1855? Did you ever hear of the Hiss Legislature?
Kathleen Wells: No.
Randy Credico: In the wake of the Kansas/Nebraska Act, in the wake of all of the rendition trials there for fugitive slaves and the uprising particularly of one Anthony Burns in 1854, a man was renditioned back to Virginia, and the entire state became so radical that the Abolitionists Movement voted in the following year the most radical, progressive state legislature in every office: the Governors office, the two Senate seats, Charles Sumner -- all became part of this radical movement there. They instituted child labor laws; they integrated the school system. This is in Massachusetts -- which has gone backward since then in many respects -- where they passed the most progressive personal liberty laws in the country. The irony is that these developments were only possible because of the previous senator, Daniel Webster's, defense and support of the slave laws.
All these old, lying hack politicians that were in Washington gave way to a new progressive. One guy wins, everyone else runs, and you have a progressive. It was a four-year experiment here, a five year experiment there, [which included] women's property rights. It was all amateurs. And so that is possible; something like that is possible. If I run and do well, it may encourage other people to run. I have encouraged other people to run on every level and buck the Democratic hack system that we have in the State of New York.
Kathleen Wells: So your position is that the war on drugs has been a complete and utter failure?
Randy Credico: Look, we have to take a lot of the blame for the violence in Mexico, because [of] the prohibition here, just like Prohibition when it was repealed by Roosevelt. What happened? Violence went down in Chicago and across the country. If you've got something people want -- something like alcohol, something like cocaine, something like marijuana -- if you make it illegal, then someone's going to sell that. If you made cigarettes illegal, imagine the black-market in cigarettes and the violence that would ensue on the turf of the distribution of cigarettes.
Kathleen Wells: And earlier you mentioned something about these ICE Units. Do you want to elaborate on that?
Randy Credico: The ICE Units round up poor people that are here working. We've got to just give amnesty. Everyone that's here, have amnesty. They're not taking our jobs; they're doing our jobs. These are jobs that nobody wants, and they do the jobs here. They're not committing crimes; it's all garbage. You got prisons that are being built right now, capital construction on more prisons for people that get arrested. Like that complete lunatic in Arizona, Joe Arapio, who's, as far as I'm convinced, as racist as they get and a sick man. I think he's a demented individual -- and racist. And maybe that's the justification -- that you're rounding up a bunch of immigrants here, especially in Arizona with the land that used to belong to Mexico. It was grabbed away from them. So was California.
There are people complaining about the immigrants [but the land] was stolen from them. When Davy Crockett and all these guys went to Texas, they were fighting to expand slavery. That's what that was all about. I know the history of Mexico. Bustamante had said, "No more slaves," and abolished slavery when they got their independence from Spain. When Texas went from being a Republic to a Union state, that would have made them a slave state. And that caused a lot of problems. Mexico didn't like that.
These ICE Units are aggressive. The ICE Units are bad.
Kathleen Wells: Some would say you have a very radical position. And some would say you have a liberal position. What do you think your chances are of getting on the ballot to...
Randy Credico: I know there's a big difference between liberal and radical.
Kathleen Wells: There is a big difference. How would you...
Randy Credico: Chuck Schumer is considered a liberal. People say the liberal Senator of New York is Chuck Schumer.
Kathleen Wells: So how would you characterize yourself? As progressive?
Randy Credico: I would say I'm more of a utilitarian. And I'm into really progressive ideas. And Libertarian in some ways, I suppose. You know I'm going to get the Libertarian nomination, I think, tomorrow up in Albany. I agree with them on a great many of the subjects, issues they are concerned about. And I don't know how I would define myself. Take a look at the positions: anti-death penalty, anti-war. I think I'm smart, and I'm humanistic.
Kathleen Wells: So, are you going to get on the Libertarian ballot? You're going to run as a Libertarian?
Randy Credico: My foremost aim right now is to be on the Democratic ticket -- I mean, on the ballot for the primary, a one-on-one with Chuck Schumer, and let the public have the opportunity to decide. And the Democratic Party, if they want to go with the old wine or the new wine, okay? Or the old whiner or the new whiner?
So they need something new. They needed an opportunity to express themselves. And then in the fall, [if] I don't win the Democratic nomination, [but] I'm on the Libertarian line, you'll see I get a great amount of votes in November. And then [Schumer is] going to have to worry about the Republican opponent.
Kathleen Wells: Okay. Well, you know what? I wish you a lot of luck and I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.
Randy Credico: Okay, Kathleen.
Kathleen Wells: Okay, bye-bye.
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