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On The Run!

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We talk about community a lot in this newspaper, and we mean some very specific things by that word-which s to say, we don't take it Nghtly at all, or frivolously, or anything like that. We take community to mean more than merely some abstract dea or slogan, that s, we take it to be something : real and concrete, something which exists or is capable of existing in the very same place we live our lives, and we are committed to building not only the sense but also the reality of commonunity wherever our people live. We would take community to mean not i just a mass of people who live in the same geography, but an organized mass of people and a collection of institutions which are created by the people in a given locality to serve their needs and eventually to deliver their whole lives, a collection of institutions 1 which are rooted in the needs of the people [ and which ultimately must be controlled by the people in order to realize their fullest potential. Self-determination, in other words, which would mean that the people in a given community will determine for themselves what their needs are and how they will be delivered, and will determine for themselves how that delivery will be effected. This will all sound pretty abstract until we get down to cases, but it's necessary I think to lay out some of this context so what I want to talk about this time will make as much sense as possible. l'm talking first about a general principie, that there s such a thing as community, that it is a real i thing and not simply rhetoric, and that struggle is required to make the idea of com-j munity a reality. And another general principie, which is that this struggle will take two major forms: one is the nternal struggle of the community to organize itself in order to gain political power commensurate to the needs of the people of the community, and the other is the struggle of the organized or developing community to gain control over its institutions, whether that means remolding and eventually taking over the nstitutions which already exist or creatipg totally new institutions which are never under the control of anyone else but the community itself. Tfiis is real business, creating a community out of the ruins of western civilization, and we are organizationally committed as the RainbowPeople's Party, on an organized, full-time basis, to bringing that community into being. We believe that our people must have full control over our entire lives, as a community and not merely as a mass of individuals, and we believe that that control can be achieved through the course of a protracted struggle, day after day, year after year, step by step by step, to organize people around their most basic needs and to move those people in a unified fashion to bring under their own control all the political, economie, and cultural institutions which affect their lives. In practice this means a number of things: it means struggling internally, within our party, to make ourselves better equipped through superior organization to organize and mobilize our community as a whole; it means struggling together with other active elements of our community to créate organizational and productive forms which will serve our people's needs and which are capable of attracting and involving increasingly greater numbers of people from the community as a whole (the Tribal Council, the People's Committees and the many people's service groups which already exist in our community here in Ann Arbor); it means uniting with many diverse elements of the larger community and struggling to change and eventually to take over completely the established institutions which presently control the organized life of the community (working with the Human Rights Party to elect people's representatives to the City Council, exerting organized pressure against the capital ist medical system and its institutions, working with college and public school students to bring the educational institutions in the community under community control, organizing and pushing for community control of the pólice department and the jail and prison system). It means participating in the honkoid electoral process at certain times and under certain conditions, supporting otherwise unacceptable political candidates like George McGovern in order to remove from power more reactionary capitalists like Nixon. it means registering people to vote and mobilizing that vote not only to bring about certain specific changes but also to give people a concrete sense of their strength as an organized political force, as with the Michigan Marijuana Initiative. The Marijuana Initiative is what I most want to talk about this time, but t has to b( discussed within the context of community control, it has to be discussed in terms of people taking the law into their own hands, by-passing the legislature to write their own laws based on their own mmediate needs, and it has to be discussed in terms of involving thousands and thousands of people most of them for the first time, in a politica) action which will directly affect their own lives. It has to be discussed in terms of uniting and mobilizing masses of people around a common issue and bringing their collective strength to bear against the established political nstitutions of the state and, most of all, t has to be discussed as an effective means of heightening our sense of commonality and our sense of communitv, as a means of moving large numbers of rainbow people from one step in the political process to another, higher stage of consciousness and unity. People on the street, that is, people who are part of the community and who take an active part in the day-to-day life of the community, have no trouble relating to the Marijuana Initiative at all, because they can understand perfectly the effect the Initiative will have on their daily lives if it's passed. They know it isn't any kind of abstraction, t isn't frivolous in any way, there's nothing abstract about it at all, it will simply remove the pólice presence from our homes and give us the air we need to breathe and grow in while we push on to accomplish our collective goals of freedom and self-determination for all people. People on the street likewise don't have any trouble getting behind the Initiative- the overwhelming response to the Initiative drive has been wholly positive as far as the masses of rainbow people in this state are concerned, and that's just as we had expected when.we decided to begin the drive to get the decriminalization of marijuana on the ballot in November. Hundreds of petitions are going out every day, offices have opened all over the state and are staffed almost entirely by people off the street, grassroots people from the various communities around the state, and support is coming in from hip store-owners, straight people, state legislators, liberal medical people and other straight professionals who have a shred of humanity left in their systems. People on the street don't have any trouble understanding the political implications of the MMI either-they've seen what people like ourselves can do if we organize ourselves and begin to move to effect some of the changes we are determined to make, and they can see that they are capable of bringing about definite, specific political results if they will simply organize themselves, and move together to bring them about. They've seen what we mean by people power when they got me out of the penitcontinued on page 10 continuad from page 7 entiary and forced the state legislature to change the oíd marijuana laws, when they forced the Michigan Supreme Court to declare the old laws unconstitutional and thus to free the remaining marijuana prisoners, when we got together here in AnnArbor to elect our own representatives to City Council and thus enact new legislation making possession, use and sale of marijuana a $5.00 fine. They've seen that through organizing our community and moving together on specific issues that we've forced the city government not only to stop nterfering with our community service programs but also to start funding them ($4000.00 for the free concerts in the park this summer, $10,000.00 for the Free People's Clinic, $9000 for 0zone House and $9000 for the Community Center Project), which is an important first step toward making the city government responsive to our needs and not merely those of the ruling "ownership" class. I don't recount these achievements of th peopie of the Ann Arbor rainbow community in order to say that we're superhip or something, but simply to say that we've been able to accomplish these things by organizing ourselves and working hard to bring them about, and that if we can do it here then peopie like ourselves all over the state can do the same thing if they want to avail themselves of the methods of work we've developed over the past few years of struggle. And we can teil already, from the response to the MMI, that peopie from other communities around the state do relate to these forms of struggle and are eager to try them for themselves, starting with the Marijuana Initiative and using it as a means of unifying people for further struggle after the Initiative drive s over. People need concrete goals and specific courses of action which are available to anyone who wants to relate in any way, and the Marijuana Initiative is immediately useful on both counts. The Marijuana Initiative real ly affects every head in the state of Michigan in the most concrete possible way- it removes the marijuana laws which oppress every one of us in one way or another, whether it's keeping us from getting arrested for holding some tokes, or saving us from the state legal system and its ad juncts, the jai Is and penitentiaries of Michigan, or simply removinq the heavy burden of paranoia and fear which every head must feel as a result of the criminal penalties for possession and use, the paranoia and fear which keep so many of us from relating to each other in an open, loving, positive way because we're afraid we might be talking to a narcotics agent or some other form of snake. And, the Initiative does the one thing that nothing else will do, at least not in the immediate future- it simply strikes the marijuana laws (except for the sales law, which is next on the list) from the books and removes a basic activity which is basic to our culture and our lives from the legal process altogether. It does the one thing that no amount of rhetoric, talking, pissing and moaning or any other form of idealistic bullshit can do-it ends the laws against possession, use, growing, harvesting, transporting or preparing marijuana in any form (e.g., hashish, hash oil, etc.) Period. And it's very simple indeed-all people have to do is seg ister to vote, sign the petition, and then vote in favor of the Initiative when it gets on the ballot in November. People who have a little higher level of communal consciousness can particípate more fully by circulating petittons, setting up distribution centers or regional offices, selling the materials MMI has to raise money with, or whatever else is needed to advance the petition drive. It's really important, at this stage of the initiative campaign, for everyone to think hard about the mplications of the MMI and then to do everything you can do to bring about its passage. There are countless ways you can particípate in this campaign, and it ain't for but another five weeks or so anyway, so everybody should be doing at least one thing to get it on the ballot. The MMI is a people's movement, a case of people taking the initiative to get something done that really won't get done any other way (at least not for a long time), and the important thing to remember is that we can do it this year if we get off our asses between now and July 7th and get the signatures! There's no way we can get around the July 7th deadline-all the signatures have to be in by then or else we'll blow t for at least two more years, which means that people will continue to be arrested and messed over for smoking weed all over this state, the pólice will continue to have the power to insert themselves into our homes and gatherings at will, and we'll continue to suffer as a people under the oppressiveness and paranoia generated by the marijuana laws. We need all the support we can get, from every element of our (state-wide) community, and each of us has to do everything we can do to make sure that the Initiative at least gets on the ballot in November. SUPPORT THE MICHIGAN MARIJUANA INITIATIVE! ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!