Red Ribbon Week Education Reaches Thousands Across the Midwest
OMAHA, Neb. -- Investigators with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Omaha Division reached thousands of individuals with messages of drug prevention and safety during annual Red Ribbon Week celebrations that began October 23. In addition to in-person presentations, 15 landmarks across the five-state division were lit with red lights, three Governors’ signed proclamations declaring October 23-31, Red Ribbon Week and 22 law enforcement partners placed more than 700 #RedRibbonWeek bumper stickers on their vehicles helping raise awareness to the campaign which is now in its 36th year.
Red Ribbon Week began following the death of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena who was murdered in 1985 by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico. After Kiki’s death, people began wearing red ribbons to honor his sacrifice.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation recognizing Red Ribbon Week, and four Iowa landmarks, the Alliant Energy Tower in Cedar Rapids, Davenport Sky Bridge in Davenport, City Hall in Sioux City, and Vue Rooftop in Iowa City were lit up in red lights helping kick off the 10-day celebration. Students at Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School brought attention to the week after designing, building and racing an electric car complete with Red Ribbon Week markings at a race held in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.
Several locations across Minnesota went red for Red Ribbon Week including Enger Tower in Duluth, 100 and 111 Washington Square as well as the I-35 West Bridge and Lowry Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis, the France Avenue Lights in Edina, and Sperry Tower in Eagan. In addition, DEA hosted a table in the concourse of Amsoil Arena as the University of Minnesota-Duluth hockey team took on then fourth-ranked University of Minnesota. Approximately 7,000 fans saw the Red Ribbon Week public service announcement aired during a time out, with several people stopping to pick up Red Ribbon pens, pencils and drug awareness publications.
In Nebraska, Governor Pete Ricketts signed a proclamation encouraging citizens to take note of Red Ribbon Week and promoted living a drug-free lifestyle. The state capitol building was lit in red the evening of October 23, as well as the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge in Omaha. More than 5,000 students across Omaha received red ribbons and bracelets as a reminder to make healthy choices that involve being drug free.
DEA joined the mayor of Fargo, North Dakota and representatives from the Fargo Police Department and Fargo Cass Public Health Department at a press conference October 22, to address the significance of Red Ribbon Week and the dangers associated with drug use and abuse. A city-wide proclamation was signed recognizing Red Ribbon Week and City Hall was lit in red lights, reminding citizens of the occasion. In addition, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum sign a statewide Red Ribbon Week proclamation.
In South Dakota, Rapid City lit up Main Street Square while The World’s Only Corn Palace went red in Mitchell. The Marty Indian School in Marty, South Dakota, welcomed DEA investigators who spoke with students from kindergarten through high school about the importance of living a drug-free lifestyle. DEA Omaha Division investigators spoke on three Native American Reservations including schools in Winnebago, Nebraska and Red Lake, Minnesota.
“Our hope is that the drug prevention conversations that began during Red Ribbon Week will carry on through the coming days and weeks,” DEA Omaha Division Special Agent in Charge Justin C. King said. “These are important topics that need to be discussed more than one time a year. Parents should talk with their children, adults should talk with one another, not just in October, but year round. These discussions can help turn the tide against the threat drugs pose in our communities.”