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Why Moms And Cops Are Uniting To End The Drug War

Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director and co-founder of A New PATH and Moms United To End The War on Drugs, talks to KPBS.

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San Diego organization, Mom's United to End the War on Drugs is bringing attention to family devastation caused by the drug war with photographs of empty chairs at the holiday table.

When families gather together for Thanksgiving, along with the eating and talking, people usually take lots of photographs. Those pictures are keepsakes, tracking a family's progress through the years.

This year a group, called Moms United to End the War on Drugs, wants families to take different kinds of photographs -- of empty seats at the table.

Those photos are meant to document the family members absent because they are in prison, they are on the streets, or have died as a result of their connection or addiction to illegal drugs.

Gretchen Burns Bergman, executive director and co-founder of A New PATH and Moms United To End The War on Drugs, told KPBS the goal is to end America's war on illegal drugs.

"My son was born in 1971, the same year that President Nixon declared war on drugs," she said. "And since that time it's been really devastating, not just to families but to our whole community in terms of loss of life, loss of liberty, we're stigmatizing and criminalizing people who use drugs or have addictive illness like my sons do."

Bergman said her older son was arrested for possession of marijuana 20 years ago, which she said started a 10-year cycle in and out of the prison system. She said her younger son has also been missing from family dinners because of stigma within her family.


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