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HIP-HOP SUMMIT ACTION NETWORK LAUNCHES ROCKEFELLER DRUG LAWS COUNTER OFFENSIVE
HSAN CHALLENGES CONSTITUTIONALITY OF NY STATE LOBBYING LAW
NY STATE LOBBYING COMMISSION SUSPENDS ALL CIVIL PENALTY HEARINGS PENDING COURT RULING
NEW YORK, N.Y. – FEBRUARY 26, 2004 – The Hip-Hop Summit Action Network announced today the launching of its counter-offensive lecture series to continue to raise public awareness about the unfairness of the Rockefeller Drug Laws in New York. This lecture series will begin at Albany State University on March 3rd at 10am and will kick off the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network’s national effort to increase public awareness about the unfairness of “mandatory minimum sentences” around the United States, of which the Rockefeller Drug Laws is the oldest. Dr. Benjamin Chavis, President and CEO of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, will lead off the lecture series at Albany State on the topic, “Spitting Truth in the Face of Injustice: Raising Public Awareness About the Negative Impact of the Rockefeller Drug Laws on African Americas and Latino Americans.”
On Friday, February 20th, 2004, the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network filed a legal action against the New York State Commission on Lobbying on the basis that the lobbying law statute is unconstitutional because it fails to provide even rudimentary due process to those charged with its violation. On Friday, February 20th, State Supreme Court Justice Bernard J. Malone signed an order enjoining the holding of three civil penalty hearings which had been scheduled against The Coalition for Fairness.
On Wednesday, February 25th, 2004, the New York State Commission on Lobbying voted to suspend the holding of any civil penalty hearings pending the resolution of the lawsuit brought by the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.
“This would be a fine time to look at this statute,” commented Hip-Hop Summit Action Network attorney, James Featherstonhaugh. “The fact that they have in two month, 150 cases, says to me there is a problem in the way the statute is drafted. We should be trying to encourage compliance, not make it hard and adversarial. I believe there is no question it is unconstitutional.”
Russell Simmons concluded, “It is my personal belief that I and the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network were attacked because of political motivations in an attempt to silence us and prevent us from continuing to address the real issue of the injustice of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. We will not relent, but will step up the pace of exposing the devastating effects of the Rockefeller Drug Laws on our communities.”
“The recent action by the court and the subsequent decision by the State Lobbying Commission proves that the hip-hop generation not only has the right to speak out, but that we are also taking responsibility to confront the injustice of the Rockefeller Drug Laws,” emphasized Dr. Benjamin Chavis. “We will not be silenced and we intend to increase our efforts to raise public awareness about this issue, not only in New York, but across America.”
For further information on the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, go to www.hsan.org.