Drug Free Looks Like Me: Red Ribbon Week


Kai Matsumoto

Students tied ribbons on a fence, pledging to live a drug free life.

Kai Matsumoto, Staff Writer

Schools all over the country celebrate Red Ribbon Week to honor the life of Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agent who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985 by drug traffickers.

To understand more about Red Ribbon Week, we must go back and find out what led to what happened in 1985.  Camarena had already worked for the DEA as an agent for seven years until he was transferred to Guadalajara Resident Office.  During his time here, he managed to get on the trail of some of the country’s biggest drug traffickers.  According to the DEA, they describe, “In early 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline.  However, before he was able to expose the drug trafficking operations to the public, he was kidnapped on February 7, 1985.  On that fateful day, while heading to a luncheon with his wife, Mika, Kiki was surrounded by five armed men who threw him into a car and sped away.  That was the last time anyone but his kidnappers would see him alive.”

Friends and neighbors wore red ribbons to honor the life of Camarena.  “Parents then began to form coalitions using Camarena as their model while embracing his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions adopted the symbol of Camarena’s memory, the Red Ribbon. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities,” DEA also explains.

“Red Ribbon Week is designed to be an awareness campaign that gets information to the general public about the dangers of drug use,” says Youth First, an organization that helps and supports children and families. “[It is also] designed to get people talking to other people and working on activities that will help rebuild a sense of community and common purpose.”

Students proved they would be drug-free by dressing up to the spirit days.  On Monday, October 23, students wore red to kick-start the beginning of Red Ribbon Week.  On Tuesday, students wore a hat to head in the right direction to be drug-free.  On Wednesday, students set an outstanding future for themselves by wearing college gear.  Students looked up at the bright sun preparing for a bright future drug-free by wearing sunglasses on Thursday.  On Friday, students dressed up in their Halloween costumes to say “BOO!” to drugs.

Students make the pledge to stay drug free, as red ribbons wrap around trees.  These ribbons represent us as people see that “Drug free looks like me.”