from the voice-of-experience dept.
Common Dreams reports
Norm Stamper is a 34-year veteran police officer who retired as Seattle's Chief of Police in 2000. He is currently a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com). He is the author of Breaking Rank: A Top Cop's Exposé of the Dark Side of American Policing.
Chief Stamper uses elements of recent police-involved events to construct an account of an assault by a SWAT team on the home of what is thought to be a low-level, nonviolent drug offender—executed on the wrong house.
As Radley Balko points out in his superb book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces, SWAT incidents of the type fictionalized above are proliferating at a frightening pace. In the '70s, the nation's roughly 18,000 municipal, county, and state police forces conducted a few hundred such operations a year. By the '80s the number had grown to approximately 3,000. And in 2005, the last year of collected data, there were more than 50,000 SWAT operations. Today's count is surely much higher.
Balko's book offers a depressingly abundant supply of all-too-real examples of city and county police officers shooting innocent citizens, getting shot themselves, dispatching beloved family pets, doing major damage to private dwellings, shredding the Constitution, souring relations between police and community, and scarring families for life.
Chief Stamper specifically mentions the grenade that severely injured Baby Bou Bou, whom we discussed here.
[...]how to reverse the militarization trend? As Seattle's police chief during the World Trade Organization's 1999 "Battle in Seattle," and acutely aware of my own unwise reliance on militarized tactics, I realize just how difficult the task will be. But that should not stop us. Here are five steps that can help us turn things around.
- Residents of cities across the country must rise up and reclaim their police departments.
- Sustained social and political pressure for demilitarization is essential.
- Local political jurisdictions must implement independent citizen oversight of police practices.
- It is vital that all law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with their communities, set and enforce rigorous standards for the selection, training, and systematic retraining of SWAT officers and their leaders.
- End the drug war.
We discussed that last point just the other day.
A report at Alternet gives some context to the amount spent by the U.S. on its drug policy.
- 1,100 - The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war
- $51 billion - The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs
- 61 percent - The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color
- 82 percent - The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs
- 18 months - The age of Bounkham "Bou Bou" Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war
The article goes into further details on the number, including:
On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh's home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range - critically injuring him.
In a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing "a singed crib" and "a pool of blood", and later being informed by medics: "There's still a hole in his chest that exposes his ribs". Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may "make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs".
Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.
The old rat-with-drug-laced-water "experiment" is a sham. The only choice the rat in the empty cage has is drinking plain water or drinking drugged water. They never show you a CONTROL where there is a rat with a cage full of cool rat toys and rat friends.
Johann Hari reports via Alternet:
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. [...] just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop [smoking by] using nicotine patches.
[...]Nearly 15 years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe [...] They decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts and spend it instead on reconnecting them--to their own feelings and to the wider society.
[...]The [sic] most crucial step is to get [addicts] secure housing [as well as] subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.
[...]An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that, since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent.
[...]The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country's top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect: more crime, more addicts; but when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass--and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal's example.