Journeys for justice are as perennial as the seasons of injustice.
The first Drug War Freedom Ride, which toured the jails of New South Wales, Australia, during July, August and September 2000 was another in that fine and ancient tradition.
Its aim was to bear witness to the inexorably rising prisoner population that is a consequence of the drug prohibition policies into which our governments federal, state and local, had been locked by the US alliance.
The Freedom Ride was a collaboration between the Sydney based prisoner action group, Justice Action, and the Nimbin based, Australian Cannabis Law Reform Movement. Its vehicle was Peacebus.com and its crew was Graeme Dunstan ('The Captain' or alternatively 'Batman'), John Peninton ('St John'), Peter Laurence ('Jab') and David Carroll ('Cannabis Dave').
The Freedom Ride was announced at the 2000 Nimbin 'Good Medicine' Mardi Grass and Cannabis Law Reform Rally 4 May 2000 and set off from Nimbin on 30 June.
The itinerary of its protest actions was as follows:
Friday 30 June 2002 Depart Nimbin
Saturday 1 July advocacy in Railway Park, Byron Bay
Sunday 2 July advocacy at Bryon Market
Friday 7 July advocacy outside Grafton Races
Sunday July 9 Jericho at Grafton jail
Friday 14 July roadshow and evening meeting at the Glen Innes Town Hall
Sunday July 16 Picnic at Glen Innes jail
Friday 20 street protest outside Tamworth Civic Centre
Sunday July 23 Picnic at Tamworth jail
Sunday July 30 Picnic at Cessnock jail
Friday 4 August Jail burning outside Bathurst courthouse
Sunday Aug 6 Picnic at Bathurst jail
Wednesday Aug 10 jail burning outside US Embassy in Canberra
Sunday Aug 13 Picnic at Junee jail
Sunday Aug 20 Picnic at Goulburn jail
Sunday Aug 27 Picnic at Lithgow jail
Friday 1 September Picnic outside the Metropolitan Remand and Reception Centre, Silverwater
Sunday Sep 3 FatherÕs day picnic outside Long Bay jail
Friday 8 September Big Joint on Sydney Harbour
Sunday 10 September Sydney 2000 HEMP Olympix Victoria Park, Glebe
Monday 11 Š13 September Peacebus takes the Big Joint to the blockade of the World Economic Forum at Crown Casino, Melbourne
The account that follows is assembled from photos and text written by Graeme Dunstan on the road within two days of actions and posted raw to www.peacebus.com, the mission website being maintained by Gary Grey, alias Max Stone, of the Cybershack in the back hills of Nimbin.
The text was edited and reworked by Graeme in December and January 2002.
Here are the journal entries.
A Call to Freedom
Carried as if by a River on a Tide of Blessings and Goodwill
A Day at the Grafton Cup
Getting Noticed in Grafton
Rapping and Rolling Around Grafton Jail
The Good News in Glen Innes
The Founding of the Glen Innes Chapter of the Australian Cannabis Law Reform Movement
Talking Justice in the Drug Free City of Tamworth
High Noon in Tamworth
Refuge on a Hemp Farm
Justice Action at Cessnock
Accommodated in Bathurst
Taking it up to the US Embassy
Bearing Witness to the Colonisation of Corrections
Cautioned in Goulburn
Lithgow - the Drug War amongst Industrial Ruins
The Big Joint in the Big Smoke
Father's Day at Long Bay Jail
The Sydney 2000 HEMP Olympix
S11 Melbourne World Economic Forum Blockade Victory to the People
A Poem and Three Wind Up Letters
May the witness of the First Drug War Freedom Ride serve to reduce jail building and incarceration in New South Wales. May the courage and determination of the Peacebus crew be an inspiration to future generations of Freedom Riders.
For peace! For justice! For the Earth!