John William Perry was a New York City police officer and a Libertarian Party and ACLU activist who spoke out against the “war on drugs”, arguing that if drugs were legal, there would be no profits to support criminals. He was also a lawyer, athlete, actor, linguist and humanitarian. He was 38 years old when he died on Sept. 11, 2001.

John Perry On that morning, John Perry was at One Police Plaza in lower Manhattan filing his retirement papers when he heard that the first plane had hit the World Trade Center. Without hesitation, he asked for his badge back, promising that he’d return later to finish filling out the papers and he went to help. He lost his life that day, rescuing others. He was on the first mezzanine of Tower One with some of his buddies, when it collapsed. Some of his buddies made it out, John did not.

In his name, the John W. Perry Fund has awarded scholarships to students affected by the Higher Education Act (HEA) drug provision. This provision, enacted by Congress in 1998, denies loans, grants and even work-study jobs to tens of thousands of would-be students each year — students who have drug convictions. Other sorts of convictions, say, grand theft, murder or terrorism, have no effect on the HEA aid programs. More than 128,000 students have officially been denied aid since the provision was enacted, plus an unknown number who didn’t apply because they, rightly or wrongly, believed they would be turned down. Find out more about this scholarship fund at the Raise Your Voice site.