Moms United to End the War on Drugs

November 25, 2019                                                                       

The 7th Annual “Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” Campaign Highlights Human Stories of Loss Caused by the War on Drugs: Incarceration, Overdose Death, Stigma, Drug War Violence 

Mothers from the Moms United to End the War on Drugs International Campaign Speak  Out About the Devastation Caused by Punitive Prohibitionist Drug Policies 

The holidays can be a particularly painful time for families who are missing a loved one at their holiday gathering. This holiday season mothers across the globe are joining  Moms United to End the War on Drugs “Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” Campaign by sharing photos of the empty chair with a picture of a lost or missing loved one due to the War on Drugs. These photos represent the tens of millions of families that have been ravaged by punitive prohibition policies, whether it is separation due to a loved one’s incarceration; an accidental overdose; their being harmed or killed by drug war violence; or their being lost on the streets due to drug problems. 

Each holiday season since 2012 Moms United has gathered these photos featuring a chair with a sign and one of these statements: incarceration, accidental overdose, drug war violence, or stigma. These photos are becoming part of a growing collection of personal stories of loss and suffering, as well as a moving and poignant video featuring these haunting pictures. Moms are mobilizing to end the war on drugs, which has been disastrous for our families and communities.

Leaders of the  Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign, a campaign of A New PATH,                       who have been personally impacted by the Drug War include: Gretchen Burns Bergman (San Diego, CA), founder of A New PATH, Moms United lead organizer and the mother of two sons who have struggled with heroin addiction and incarceration; Julia Negron (Florida), a mother whose son served several prison terms for drug possession; Charmie Gholson (Michigan), Director of Michigan Moms United, Diane Goldstein (Las Vegas, Nev.), a member of Law Enforcement Action Partnership; Yolande Cadore (NY, NY) drug policy reform activist; Sharon Ravert (Georgia) a mother, author and business owner; Karen Garrison (Washington D.C.), founder mommieactivist and a mother whose sons were falsely incarcerated.

“I have painful memories of holidays when my son was absent because he was locked behind bars for drug use, and of family celebrations when one of my sons wasn’t included because he was lost in the maze of his addiction.”          Gretchen Burns Bergman

“For 11 1/2 and 13 1/2 years my twin sons were incarcerated.  No matter how festive I tried to make it, no holiday was ever the same without my sons at the table.” Karen Garrison   

“Thanksgiving is in the month my son died of an overdose. There will always be an empty seat at our table. We give thanks for the 19 years of memories of our beautiful boy.”   Sarah Couper

 “I recall driving 4 hours to visit my son in prison for a past Thanksgiving. He was serving time for drug possession. The processing time took so long that we never got that visit. He waited in his sally-port on the other side, while we waited at our assigned table for that precious few minutes with my son. That seat remained empty.”     Julia Negron

"They kidnapped my nineteen year old son, I paid the ransom and as I waited for him to be freed they killed my other son, Alan, and my son-in-law. As mothers who have lost our children we have nothing to celebrate…nonetheless, I stay "as strong as ever" - as my son Gerson used to say- in the struggle to end the injustices the government creates through its war on drugs while they are disappearing and murdering more young people." Maricela Orozco Montalvo, mother of two men murdered in Mexico.

Moms United asks mothers and others to take action during this holiday season in three ways: 

  • From Thanksgiving through Christmas, use our “Empty Chair” logo as your Facebook profile: Or you can add an Empty Chair Frame to a picture of your choice. To use the Frame, select the photo you wish for your profile picture then select the “add frame” option. In the search bar, type MomsUnited or EmptyChair and select the frame and save. When the new profile picture appears on your friends’ feeds, it will include a link to “use this frame” to make it easy for others to join the campaign. Link to frame:
  • Follow and share the campaign on FacebookTwitter and other networks.

 The international Moms United campaign works to end the violence, mass incarceration and accidental overdose deaths that are a result of current punitive and discriminatory drug policies. They are building a movement to stop the stigmatization and criminalization of people who use drugs or who are addicted to drugs. They urgently call for health-oriented strategies and widespread drug policy reform in order to stop the irresponsible waste of dollars and resources, and the devastating loss of lives and liberty.

Moms United to End the War on Drugs is a project of A New PATH, a 20-year old nonprofit organization that works to reduce the stigma associated with addictive illness through education and compassionate support, and to advocate for therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies.

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Gretchen Burns Bergman
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 619-670-1184
Mobile: 619-884-3561