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You’ve probably heard me say this before, but when it comes to confronting injustice in the world, when it comes to tearing down the old systems and building new ones, we’re often way more outraged than we are organized. Well, today I’m gonna help organize us, OK?

We’re going to help pass a law together and we only have until tomorrow night to do it.

Let me break it down.


Every year in the Unites States, this nation incarcerates over 10 million people. And what we’ve all come to know and understand is that this system is not broken, it’s functioning exactly as it was built and designed and intended to function. It’s not broken – it’s firing on all cylinders. And it took hundreds and hundreds of years to build this system. It’s not new. It’s old. Each previous generation added their own forms of bigotry and discrimination and inequality and bias to it.

And the system we have right now, we call it the justice system, but it’s not just, that’s really a bad name for it, this system, this incarceration system, this punishment system, in order for it to be torn down, we must tear it down piece by piece, state by state, county by county, city by city, law by law. Because that’s how it’s built. It’s built locally – and it must be confronted and torn down locally.

And we have less than 48 hours to tear down a massive piece of the incarceration system in this nation, and I need all hands on deck, ok?

I need you to go and fill out this quick form for me, ok? I need to be able to email you some detailed instructions and if you fill out this form I’ll email you later this morning.

Now let me tell you what we’re about to do.

For the first time in generations, New York has a Democratic Governor, a Democratic state assembly, and a Democratic state senate. This is the first year that’s been in place in forever – and it’s actually one of just a few states in the entire country that has that right now.

And their legislative session actually ends tomorrow night. Now you may not live in New York, but let me tell first tell you again why what I am about to tell you matters so much.

First and foremost, again, systems of mass incarceration are built on the state and local level, so we must fight for change on those levels.

But the state of New York has nearly 20 million residents. New York City alone, which is the largest city in the nation, has 9 million residents. What that also means is that New York City and New York state also consistently have one of the largest systems of mass incarceration in the nation.

And this week we have a chance to tear a major plank of that system down.

No state has arrested more people, almost exclusively Black and Brown people, for possession of marijuana than New York. Even after countless policies have passed, tens of thousands of people per year, again, almost exclusively Black and Latino, are still cited and arrested for it. Many people say it like this – marijuana has been legal for white people in New York for generations. They sell and smoke it with almost complete impunity.

Even though study after study shows that white people smoke weed at the same rate as Black and Latino folk, nearly 90% of the arrests continue to be of people of color.

But here’s the thing – right now a strong bill that I approve of – that will not only legalize marijuana, but will also do the hard work of righting the wrongs that the war on drugs caused in New York – a strong bill is waiting to be approved. It’s called the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act of 2019. We call it MRTA. And it’s the strongest bill in New York to begin righting the wrongs the state has done on weed for generation after generation.

Over the past 48 hours I’ve now talked directly with a dozen lawmakers in New York who all said they are ready to pass it, but they seem to need us to give them a push to get it done.

So let me break down what we’re going to do, ok?

I’ve done this before, and it helped us pass a law in New York called Raise The Age, but I’ve never done it on such a short schedule.

As soon as you sign up for – I’m going to email you a contact list. And I need you to start putting in some real work immediately, OK?

I need you to call every single person on that list. I need you to email every single person on that list. And I need you to tweet every single person on that list. And I need us to ask them to PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE pass the MRTA – that’s the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act.

They only have until Wednesday to get it done. It needs to be passed in the Assembly and it needs to be passed in the Senate.

No bill before them will do more to right the wrongs of the war on drugs than this bill. 10 states have already passed a bill like this. And it’s time that New York join them.

We’re going to work on this today and tomorrow and give this bill the push it needs.

Let’s GO. Go to now and I’ll email you the next steps.


Shaun King: We Have To Tear Down The ‘Incarceration System’  was originally published on