Judge Gray: Drug War Fuels Violence

by Lawrence K. Samuels



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Lawrence K. Samuels below article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue of the now defunct California Freedom.

On February 28, 2009, the Peace Coalition of Monterey County, Libertarians for Peace, and the Progressive Libertarian League co-sponsored a panel in Seaside, CA on "How to Prevent Gang Violence," held at Seaside's Peace Resource Center. Panelists included Judge Jim Gray, recently retired after 20 years as a Superior Court Judge in Orange County, and Kathy Mackenzie, social anthropologist.

The nearby city of Salinas has seen gang-related homicide rates double in recent years, and the local community is infuriated by authorities' failure to stop the violence.



Judge Gray said that the drug war is the main cause behind violent gang activity and political corruption. Mackenzie agreed, but suggested there were too many guns in society. When an audience member asked Mackenzie to elaborate, she instead discussed the problems of alcohol and broken families. She agreed with Gray that antisocial and violent behavior by gangs is not caused by the drugs themselves, but by drug money.

The Peace Coalition of Monterey County, a group of 27 independent organizations, is seeking solutions to escalating gang violence in Salinas. Celia Bosworth, chair of the Peace Coalition, initially wanted the panel to blame guns as the main culprit for higher incidences of gang warfare. She argued that the best solution was to confiscate all guns. But many coalition representatives agreed with this author, who argued that the drug war was the main cause of gang violence. When it appeared that the voting majority saw the drug war as the critical factor, the coalition put this author in charge of the panel.

After the panel, Judge Gray spoke at a speech/dinner fundraiser in Carmel Valley for the Libertarian Parties of California and Monterey County, held at the home of relatives of Monterey County LP vice chair Savva Vassiliev. Introduced by Prof. David R. Henderson, professor of economics at the local Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Gray delivered a short speech on how to advance libertarian activities.

Afterwards, LPC Secretary Beau Cain began his fundraising pitch. Many audience members made monetary pledges. But the real money poured in during Cain and Henderson's auction of books, items, and private dinners. The fundraising was doing so well, someone joked about auctioning off the paintings on the wall! Over $2,000 was raised.

Carol Ruth Silver, a former San Francisco Supervisor, donated a six-person dinner at her favorite restaurant in San Francisco, which someone bid up to $195. Silver is an attorney who served during Harvey Milk's era. She was targeted to be shot along with him in 1978, but was saved by a late coffee break with a friend. She is a member of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) and the Pink Pistols.

Silver mentioned that she used to be a life-long Democrat, but now considers herself a libertarian.


Lawrence K. Samuels is an editor and contributing author to Facets of Liberty: A Libertarian Primer. His email: lawsam1951 at hotmail.com.