first_imgStudents and fellows packed the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum on Tuesday, just before the State of the Union address, for a screening of the award-winning documentary “The House I Live In.” Following the screening, there was a Q-and-A with writer-director Eugene Jarecki and Professor Charles J. Ogletree, who is interviewed in the film.Produced by Hollywood notables such as Danny Glover and Brad Pitt, “House” is a riveting look at many aspects of the war on drugs. Jarecki has taken the film to the streets, with screenings in churches and community centers across the country. His goal is to get his message to where people need to hear it, he said, so after a showing in Roxbury on Monday, he brought it to the Kennedy School.During the screening, the audience gasped and laughed, sighed and choked up. When it was over, Jarecki, kicking off the Q-and-A, was blunt: “Capitalism in its form that we are seeing in the United States right now is an enemy to democracy.”Ogletree, the Jesse Climenko Professor of Law and director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, was on hand to answer questions because, he said, it’s important “to make people understand what has happened the last few decades,” and that the war on drugs and mass incarceration are problems “affecting every community.”Shanequa Benitez was featured in the film “The House I Live In,” which was screened at the Harvard Kennedy School, followed by a Q-and-A. Treatment is the No. 1 goal, agreed Jarecki and Ogletree. Photo courtesy of Samuel CullmanThe drug war’s “industrial inhumanities,” said Jarecki, do have a solution: an end to the war on drugs.Jarecki and Ogletree both hit one word like a drum throughout the conversation. “Treatment,” they insisted, should replace the drug war model. Treatment, they said, would make drugs a public health problem, rather than an issue handled by law enforcement.“Treatment is not our No. 1 goal, but it has to be,” said Ogletree. “We have to start that dialogue here. They [drug users] are people too.” He also called for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing laws for drug defendants.Jarecki took care, in the film and during the Q-and-A, to describe the issue not as one of race, but class.The drug war “is not on anyone’s agenda,” said Ogletree, adding that President Obama probably wouldn’t mention it during his State of the Union address (he didn’t).“We have to start right here, right now. [We’ve got] to stop this incredible use and misuse of power that has millions of people in jail and going to jail.”The evening was co-sponsored by the Center for Public Leadership’s Student Advisory Board, the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, the Criminal Justice Professional Interest Council, the Harvard Black Law Students Association, the Harvard Kennedy School Black Student Union, and the Harvard Undergraduate Legal Committee.last_img read more

first_imgWith a Facebook page, a photo and video campaign and a petition in the works, several graduate students in peace studies are trying to raise awareness about a recent outbreak of mob violence against immigrants in South Africa.The attacks, in which people have been shot and stabbed and shops looted and burned, have left several dead and thousands of migrants displaced, The Guardian reported. Most of the victims are from nearby African countries such as Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. In the face of international backlash, South Africa arrested hundreds and sent its army to parts of the cities of Johannesburg and Durban, where the violence is centered, to quell the unrest.The violence is the latest in a series of outbreaks over the past several years. Sarah Bosha, a second-year masters student in peace studies who helped form the Notre Dame campaign, said some South Africans, especially in poorer areas, believe foreigners take away South Africans’ jobs.Francis Opio, also a second-year masters student, said he and other students from Africa had the idea for the project, which is unaffiliated with other campus organizations, last week after they talked with each other about what they had heard about the violence.“We thought, not only as peace studies students but also as human beings, we needed to speak up,” Opio said. “How could this be happening to an African but also being orchestrated by an African? It was really horrible.”The campaign, called “Students Against Violence,” began Friday outside the library, where students encouraged passersby to record a video message or take a photo with a sign that said “Say No to Xenophobia.” The students created a Facebook page to post the photos and discuss news from Africa.The group will also collect signatures for a petition, which they will submit to the South African consulate in Chicago, Bosha said. Bosha, who is from Zimbabwe, said the petition stems from her and other students’ dismay at the slow response of international leaders.“We felt like there’s a deafening silence from other African governments — I know my leader, President [Robert] Mugabe, didn’t say anything for a long time,” she said. “The South African president didn’t quite say anything for a long time, the AU took a really long time to say something, and it was disheartening to us because there were people from our country, people from other countries that were being killed, and it just seemed like it was business as usual. No one seemed moved, who had the authority to do something about it.”The petition will remind the South African government about its obligation to uphold the right to life under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Bosha said.“The idea is to call upon the South African government to what it’s supposed to do according to its treaty obligations and also to call upon South Africans themselves that are committing the violence — it’s not all of them, but the ones that are — that this is against the values that we as a continent uphold,” Bosha said.Bosha said the campaign will also address a general lack of knowledge about the situation in South Africa.“It was interesting to see how something so huge as someone’s loss of life in such a terrible way like being burned to death or being decapitated or being murdered could slip by the eyes of the world,” she said. “It surprised me that some people didn’t know — but it’s not something that was blasted in international media.”First-year masters student Christian Cirhigiri said after the petition is submitted, the campaign will go beyond the immediate problem of violence in South Africa. He said the social media platform will be a space both to raise public awareness of African news and for African students to talk about issues on the continent, such as attacks by Nigerian terror group Boko Haram or the killing of 30 Ethiopian Christians by ISIS.“This is not just for South Africa,” he said. “We would like to create a space for a movement here on campus where African issues are brought to light, that the Notre Dame community gets to know or gets to feel that we are representing nations that are affected, and we would like to have their support as well as the support of leaders here.”Tags: africa, Peace Studies, south africa, students against violence, violence, xenophobialast_img read more