Drugs Return to Times Square
Illegal drugs from ecstasy to crack are back in Times Square – all safely under glass in what will be the world’s highest profile anti-drug museum at One Times Square called Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists and You.
The 15,000 sq foot, three-story museum opens September 14, 2004, and illustrates the high price Americans pay for drug abuse.
The free exhibit explains how illegal drug users are not the only victims. Displays include an actual drug related car wreck, a jungle cocaine lab, an Afghan heroin “factory,” a re-created methamphetamine hotel cook room, a tenement crack-house room, and interactive kiosks that explain how dealers launder money to profit terrorists.
There is also a display on the link between drugs and terror that includes a memorial containing wreckage and artifacts from the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The museum will be open each day from 9 AM until 8 PM, 7 days a week.
According to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, “Bringing ‘Target America’ to Times Square will let millions of visitors see, first hand, how US illegal drug sales not only help support terrorism, but also how drugs terrorize all of us.”
Tandy emphasized that “we are making great progress in reducing the supply and abuse of drugs – like a long march up the football field – but we won’t make it into the end zone until America recognizes that drug use puts everyone in danger just as second hand tobacco smoke endangers the non-smoker, and until Americans get as angry about illegal drugs the way non-smokers went after second hand smoke.”
Target America was developed in the months after the September 11th attacks. The total cost of the project, estimated at just over $1.5 million dollars, was paid for by both public and private dollars. Half of the cost was raised in the private sector through donations to the AFFNA DEA Museum Foundation.
As in all tour cities, the Times Square exhibit includes a section that details the battle against drugs in New York City.
Parts of the Target America exhibit have spent the past two years traveling the nation in Virginia, Texas and Nebraska with future stops planed for Chicago, Atlanta and Boston. Target America will stay in Times Square until February 1, 2005. Parts of the exhibit have significantly augmented since its nationwide tour began.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National Guard and corporations including Computer Sciences Corporation and Hewlett Packard and private donors are sponsoring the exhibit.
NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow praised the museum for including interactive kiosks that detail how drug use, production and trafficking hurt children and damage the body and brain. Dr. Volkow says, “Helping the public understand these consequences is key to preventing drug abuse.”
ONDCP Director John Walters emphasized that “the money spent on illegal drugs helps fund terrorists who spread violence, corruption and addiction throughout the World. We hope illustrating how the drug trade devastates our communities, more Americans will get active and help stop it.”
SAMHSA Administrator Charles Curie noted that, “one of the best ways to combat substance abuse is to prevent it in the first place. This museum will help educate Americans of all ages about the dangers of drug abuse, and enable them to build the resilience and the capacity they need to reject drugs.”
SAMHSA’s Center for Drug Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Director Beverly Watts explained that “the interactive displays show how anyone can get help or treatment and dramatically show drugs’ negative effects on the brain.”
“Target America: Drug Traffickers, Terrorists and You” is open to the public seven days a week, 9 AM – 8 PM, free of charge. In addition to the exhibit space spanning two floors, the third floor includes classroom and presentation space. A series of lectures, public programs and information sessions will be scheduled throughout the exhibit’s stay in New York. Information on education resources and programs, as well as more detail on the exhibit is available at www.targetamerica.org.