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Vote like your life depends on it
Rev. E.D. Mondainé is the President of the Portland NAACP. Antionette Edwards is the retired Director of the Portland Youth Violence Prevention Task Force. Donell Morgan is the Executive Director of Elevate Oregon.
Antoinette Edwards, Donell Morgan, and Rev. E.D. Mondainé
Published: 18 September 2020

This time of crisis has thrown a bright light on systemic injustice, especially the criminal justice system’s disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous and other people of color. 

One area where this inequity is especially dramatic is with the failed “War On Drugs,” which offers people suffering from addiction a criminal record instead of treatment, ruining lives and wasting money. 

Black, Indigenous and LGBTQ people are disproportionately harmed, arrested and punished at much higher rates, despite no significant disparity in use, and have unequal access to drug addiction treatment and recovery services. 

This November, Oregonians will have a chance to reduce these disparities by voting yes on Measure 110, which would establish a more humane, equitable and effective approach to helping people struggling with addiction, shifting from a system of criminalization to approaching addiction as the healthcare issue it is.

That’s why an extraordinary coalition of more than 110 organizations have come out in support of Measure 110, including more than 30 racial and social justice organizations, such as the Coalition of Communities of Color, NAACP Portland, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, Hacienda CDC, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), Causa, NAACP Eugene-Springfield, Centro Latino Americano, Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN), Latino Network, Rural Organizing Project, Basic Rights Oregon, Next Up, the Oregon Latino Health Coalition, and many more. Rarely have social justice organizations been so united behind a ballot measure. 

In addition, Measure 110 has earned endorsements from medical and public safety organizations from all parts of the state, including the American College of Physicians, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon School Psychologists’ Association, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Partnership for Safety and Justice, the Crime Victims’ Rights Alliance, and the Academy of Family Physicians Oregon Chapter.. 

The reasons we support Measure 110 are many:

  • Drugs are one of the most arrested offenses in Oregon, and Black, Indigenous, and communities of color are disproportionately harmed. An Oregonian gets arrested for drug possession once every hour on average, and Black and Indigenous Oregonians are arrested and punished at much higher rates, despite no disparity in drug use. 
  • Measure 110 would nearly eliminate racial disparities in drug arrests. Disparities would fall by 95%, and drug convictions of Black and Indigenous Oregonians would fall by 94%, according to a report released by the Oregon Secretary of State.
  • Oregon ranks nearly last of all states in access to drug addiction treatment. More than 281,758 people in Oregon last year had Substance Use Disorder but were unable to get treatment. That’s more people with addiction than the entire population of Eugene. 
  • Measure 110 would greatly expand access to drug addiction treatment and recovery services. Measure 110 would generate more than $100 million a year in additional funding for these services, which is four times more than Oregon currently spends on non-Medicaid state funding for Substance Use Disorder. 
  • Measure 110 requires services to be culturally responsive, and puts BIPOC leaders in charge of distributing the money. Measure 110 requires services to be patient centered and trauma-informed, and it requires at least three people from communities disproportionately harmed by our current approach to drugs to be on the Oversight and Accountability Council that oversees where funding goes.

Of course, deep, structural moves towards justice always draw opposition from the forces of the status quo, who will use the tired tactics of trying to divide our communities and scare people into saying no to needed change. But the incredible and growing coalition supporting Measure 110 shows that the time has come to turn to a new and better chapter of the Oregon story.

We hope you will join us in winning a victory for justice, saving lives, saving families, and a more humane, equitable and effective approach to drug addiction in Oregon.

Rev. E.D. Mondainé is the President of the Portland NAACP. Donell Morgan is the Executive Director of Elevate Oregon. Antionette Edwards is the retired Director of the Portland Youth Violence Prevention Task Force.

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