June 11, 2000
The Miami Herald
1 Herald Plaza
Miami, FL. 33132-1693
Robert Steinback's June 11 column, A Tool in the War on Drugs, starts off stating what everybody knows or suspects: "Black Americans are far more likely than white people to be imprisoned for drug offenses, even though five times as many white people use drugs..." If this is true, it appears that there's an imbalance in penalizing the two partners doing the drug tango.
This is why City Commissioner Johnny Winton, as Chairman of the Village West Revitalization Task Force, wrote to The Herald in March asking that the names of drug buyers arrested in West Coconut Grove be published in the "Neighbors" section on a regular basis. He first checked out the legality of doing this with the City's legal department who said it was legal to do so as long as it was clear that it was merely an arrest for buying drugs, and not a conviction. The Task Force members, black and white, were unanimous in their support.
The Herald's negative response to Chairman Winton's request was ludicrous: there would be too many names to publish and other drug-besieged community's would want the same thing! If this is the real reason, then I think perhaps we need to put the names on page B-1 of Local instead of merely in "Neighbors."
If, on the other hand, the underlying reason is the fear of being sued by the drivers, or worse yet, by the parents of the drivers of all those SUVs and BMW's so obviously cruising the streets of the West Grove "lost and looking for directions," then that needs to be examined in the full glare of our only city-wide newspaper, too.
Anthony R. Parrish, Jr.
Member, Village West Revitalization Task Force