"Caravan For Peace" Kicks Off in NYC
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Cries of "No more drug war!" and "Alive they took them, alive we want them!" fill the air as the Caravan For Peace sets up in New York City today. The caravan—which launched August 12 in Tijuana and will wrap up next week in Washington D.C.—aims to raise awareness and provoke discussion about non-violent solutions to the Mexican drug war. With the death toll of the drug war rising as high as 71,000, protestors hope that these activities will help people see Mexico as a neighbor, rather than a threat. "Today, we are here to show the world that the US and Mexico are calling to end the war on drugs," says Kassandra Frederique of the Drug Policy Alliance at a press conference to kick off the day's events. Frederique, along with other speakers, are making the point that drug addiction is a health issue, rather than a criminal issue, and should be treated as such. Local groups including VOCAL New York and Occupy Wall Street join the caravan for the NYC events, which included a vigil for victims on Thursday night and marches and demonstrations throughout the city today; crowds of New Yorkers and some out-of-towners have come out to support the Caravan as well. "Of course I don't advocate drug use," says Monica James, a student who frequently volunteers with kids, to The Fix. "But the current policies are awful, and we need to speak up about them. We need more public education on this important matter." Many involved in the caravan say the funds gained by ending the drug war could go towards education and treatment of addiction, rather then towards more violence. The caravan's other events today include a demonstration in front of HSBC Bank, a march to Zuccotti Park and a film screening.