That Other War

Monday, January 11th, 2010

My crime column this week looks at the deaths of Tarika Wilson, Jonathan Ayers, and Gonzalo Guizan.

All three are drug war collateral damage.

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

22 Responses to “That Other War”

  1. #1 |  Reggie Hubbard | 

    “And it’s as easy to obtain illicit drugs today as it was in 1982.”

    I’d argue it’s even easier. I do nothing but smoke pot (smoke, never sell) but I can still claim that when I’m near a campus, I can get ANY drug within a week.

    Friends that have challenged me on this have wound up enjoying their opium, Oxycontin, or other designer drugs.

    Great article. The great and mostly terrible thing about this piece is that you have so many stories you could have chosen from. It’s gotten to the point that whenever I’m telling people about this tactics problem, they have to stop me from going through all the examples I know.

  2. #2 |  AndrĂ© | 

    Thanks for adding a favicon! That makes my bookmarks easier to manage.

  3. #3 |  Whim | 

    Another in a long, long series of thoroughly depressing Radley Balko articles on the subject of Militarization of the Police.

    The War on Drugs is a War on Americans.

  4. #4 |  Andrew S. | 

    I can always count on you to make me want to throw my laptop against the wall on an almost daily basis, Radley.

    Seriously. I just wish that someone who was in favor of the war on drugs would answer this question for me: What is it about drugs that is so terrible that it justifies the summary execution by the state of its citizens? Even if you assume the use of drugs to be a “disease”, how is it that the “cure” (the war on some drugs) is not far worse than the “disease”?

  5. #5 |  Edmund Dantes | 

    The problem is that way too many Americans have been well trained to believe that the only acceptable way to interact with police is to act subservient, voluntarily give up your rights, or you deserve anything the cop did you because you failed to respect them.

    September 11th only helped to accelerate this phenomenon which had slowly been happening before then.

    Just look at the comments on this Consumerist article.

    While the receipt checker doesn’t have the right to detain you, the police do. They search people all of the time because of reasonable suspicion. Just because you have you consumerist receipt stories under your belt as “life lessons” doesn’t mean you are above the police.

    I’m glad this policeman embarassed you publicly. Learn some common respect. This isn’t about sacrificing everyone’s freedoms, you DISRESPECTED 2 hard working Americans. Do you like people doing that at your work?”

    Usually the worst offenders are those pesky self described “real” Americans. The funny thing they will never get is that these “real” americans are so willing to give up the things that make real Americans.

    Hey assholes. Stop giving up the rights that all truly Real Americans have.

  6. #6 |  Edmund Dantes | 

    Sorry. The link is here.

  7. #7 |  Toastrider | 

    That’s… odd. I’m not going to apologize for it (because it IS ridiculous), but I used to work at Sam’s Club and I’ve never seen a receipt checker detain anyone.

    In fact, it’s Wally World policy that only managers, Loss Prevention staff, or police may act to detain anyone in the event of a witnessed theft.

    I’m not saying I believe or disbelieve (although Wally World really does have some spectacular imbeciles working there). I just find it very strange.

    Back on topic, all I can say is that until someone starts watching the watchmen — and perhaps doling out some severe penalties — we’re going to continue to see ‘collateral damage’.

    Frankly, it’s enough to make me want to build a shaped charge into my front door. Go right ahead, hit that with your portable ram…

  8. #8 |  Danny | 

    Radley’s article was, as usual, excellent and I appreciate his convential, restrained and measured tone, with the usual “problem-which-needs-a-solution” focus. However, I think Radley’s basic thesis — that the kernel of the problem are police “tactics” and “militarization” — is falling apart (judging even from his own aggregation of evidence on his blog).

    Something much darker and insidious is happening in America. Much of the world, including Western Europe, have extensively paramilitarized policing, but we do not hear about these kinds of horrible killings happening elsewhere. It seems to be a unique problem here. In America, some kind of savage, blood-lustful consciousness is metastasizing through the vast cohort of law enforcement personnel. There seems to be an increasing number of sociopaths, half-wits and other “frontal-lobe” cases pushing their way into the profession, and they thrive on the sensation of causing fear and intimidation.

    At the same time, a convergence of government-civil-servant and public-labor-union prerogatives, along with overdeveloped legal immunities, have created a kind of elite “super-caste” of men-with-badges; they are, all at once, legally unaccountable, financially enriched, publicly lionized and secretly feared.

    This “super-caste” might undergo a profound change in attitude if they were stripped of their big black machineguns and other paramilitary trappings, but I seriously doubt it. I suspect that this “super-caste” would carry on in much the same way if they were as lightly armed as British bobbies, and would probably inflict an undiminished amount of collateral damage.

  9. #9 |  Charlie O | 

    Anyone who doesn’t believe we live in a police state is both naive and stupid.

  10. #10 |  Kevin | 

    Perhaps in 200 or 300 years people will look back on the War On (some) Drugs as we, today, look back on the Salem Witch Hunts of the 1600’s……Hysteria, superstitious ignorance, barbaric behavior, and largely politically motivated.

  11. #11 |  Eric Dondero | 

    Geez, I wonder how the Radical Muslims will treat drug users and sellers if and when they take over the United States, because of our inaction, and weakness in the face of their Islamic Terror and Jihad.

    Oops. I forgot that’s a politically incorrect question to ask here at this Left Libertarian blog. For as we all know, it’s the “Religion of Peace,” and if only we didn’t have our Troops stationed overseas they’d just leave us alone.

  12. #12 |  Whim | 

    The problem with police is simple.

    The small clique that controls our country wants you to be afraid.

    Very afraid. Paralyzed with fear. Literally trembling with fear when you see the flashing Police Car Lights in your rearview mirror.

    You are being conditioned through a multitude of TV programs like Law and Order, CSI, NYPD Blue, etc. for the past 50 years. By “reality” TV shows like COPS. By No-Knock Night Time Raids. By liberal tasering of compliant suspects. By the War on Drugs.

    If I was a practicing trial attorney, I think I’d just watch COPS on a weekly basis, and then work up scenarios to sue those government jurisdictions that exhibited any aspect of unconstitutional behavior as practiced by their police. Captured on video recordings. Primarily police brutality of body slamming compliant suspects, along with boots and knees dangerously jammed into fragile necks.

    I think I could earn a really good income from financial settlements……

  13. #13 |  Andrew S. | 

    Hey, it’s a visit from Donerdoooooo!

    I know you’re generally nutty, Eric, but at least usually you’re on topic. That post was worse than the randomness we get from Privacy Bot over at Hit&Run.

  14. #14 |  Mattocracy | 

    I accidentally gave #11 a thumbs up. Sorry.

    How exactly did this tirade about muslims come about from an article about drugs? Where did anyone here call Islam a religion of peace? You appearantly are new to this site seeing as we aren’t exactly religious fanatic friendly here.

    But I guess those terrorists are all gonna get us, huh. Cause you know, the government couldn’t possibly be blowing that shit out of proportion either. Just like the global warming is going to get us along with all those sexual predators and the boogie man and the gay marriage fairy.

    And yeah, if we got our soldiers out of the Middle East, they’d leave us alone. Don’t believe all that shit about fanatical and unrelenting radical muslims who will stop at nothing. Drug dealers don’t hold you down and force drugs on you either. Thanks for being hysterical. Get over yourself.

  15. #15 |  JOR | 

    “It’s possible that all three officers in these cases were justified in discharging their weapons.”

    Well I suppose if you break into the home or attack the vehicle of someone who might possibly be guilty of putting certain things in their body or selling such things or fucking a prostitute, you’re justified in shooting them dead if they try to defend themselves.

  16. #16 |  David | 

    He means “justified” in a legal and procedural sense, not a moral one. And the courts have deemed that true. Police are allowed to err on the side of killing “suspects”(Also known as non-cops) if they feel they’re in danger, whether mistakenly or not.

    What’s truly frightening is that it the rest of us are held to far higher standard in dealing with each other, and an infinitely higher one when dealing with police.

  17. #17 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Police Academy Training Course
    Course Name: Collateral Damage 101
    Credit: 3 Units

    Course Summary

    This training course instructs the cadet on not concerning himself with the occasional killing of innocent bystanders if the officer at least gives the appearance of conducting some police related work. Several case studies will be examined to illustrate how tolerant the compliant population and police-friendly news media are toward such events. The cadet will be trained in several techniques effective in suppressing the psychologically destructive weakness often referred to in civilian circles as “guilt”. The course also debates the benefits of broadening collateral damage policy and renaming it “Shock and Awe” in the event that public outrage over the killing of innocents should ever materialize. The final exam will consist of drug-bust style, timed weapons training session in the urban pop-up target range against unarmed civilian and canine targets with the top three scorers receiving the highly coveted Swath of Death Proficiency Award.

  18. #18 |  Dave Krueger | 

    From the Reason article: It’s possible that all three officers in these cases were justified in discharging their weapons.

    It’s not possible that the cops are justified in discharging their weapons if they weren’t justified in conducting the raids to begin with. Being legal doesn’t automatically justify something. If it did, the rounding up of the Jews Europe and the Japanese in the U.S. would be considered justified (an idea that would be almost universally rejected now — unless your name is Michelle Malkin).

  19. #19 |  Marty | 


    niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice! I could only give 1 thumbs up, sorry.

  20. #20 |  john | 

    Dave K.

    i would laugh at your laugh at you comments, but its so true.

  21. #21 |  BamBam | 

    #18, using a more recent example, if your name is Rep. J. Gresham Barrett from South Carolina, you want to deport all people from Iran, Sudan, Cuba, Syria, Yemen — the countries with Boogeyman Creation Factories.

  22. #22 |  JOR | 

    Well if he just meant “justified” in the purely legal, procedural sense, there’s no “possible” about it. It’s a dead certainty.