Drug War Victims
September 29, 2003 9:25 AM   Subscribe

Drug War Victims. "Increasingly, people are dying because of the tactics of the drug war. Military operations are being conducted on our soil, and collateral damage is inevitable... Every now and then, a death happens that is particularly grotesque -- that points out the horrific folly of our actions. This page presents some of those deaths." This is part of the Drug WarRant blog. [Via TalkLeft.]
posted by homunculus (41 comments total)
 
God that's depressing.

It says something about how awake I am that it took me a full five minutes to realise the random time 'order' was because the names were in alphabetical order...
posted by twine42 at 9:36 AM on September 29, 2003


Wait a minute, the drug war is killing people?!?

Now I'm pissed!

Or something...
posted by zekinskia at 9:47 AM on September 29, 2003


Lets not forget the way the drugs war is being waged also leads to people injecting impure heroin etc. mixed with brick dust and Driano, and having their atreries pack up, and having their legs amputated, or overdosing when they get an unusually pure batch, because there's no quality control in the illegal drugs market.

When the drug is given on prescription, the crime goes, the impurities go, the person can re-enter society, hold down a job, keep their family together, and get counselling and support to come off the drug when they feel confident and able to do so.
posted by Blue Stone at 10:28 AM on September 29, 2003


Interesting find. I disagree with the premise, but I'm glad it's out there.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:31 AM on September 29, 2003


Is there a site for all those who died while waiting for or attending one of those demon Rock N Roll concerts? Damn Evil Things!
posted by HTuttle at 10:45 AM on September 29, 2003


I disagree with the premise

What premise is that?
posted by biscotti at 11:04 AM on September 29, 2003


While I feel sympathy for the people mistakenly shot on raids and such, I have a hard time feeling the same for people in shoot-outs with the police or ignored instructions to drop their gun.
posted by dr_dank at 11:22 AM on September 29, 2003


"While I feel sympathy for the people mistakenly shot on raids and such, I have a hard time feeling the same for people in shoot-outs with the police or ignored instructions to drop their gun."

What the fuck does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Oh good, we've shot and killed some people who were actually breaking a law - this is supposed to somehow outweigh the 11 year old shot in the back with a shotgun while he was spreadeagled on the floor? Especially considering that the actual lawbreakers would of course not be lawbreakers if the laws that resulted in both deaths didn't exist?
posted by kavasa at 11:40 AM on September 29, 2003


Very simple change to policies. Let's make municipalities and police departments legally liable for the damage caused by serving warrants (particularly the "no-knock" kind) on the wrong house, against the wrong people, and collateral damage. A couple of megaverdicts from now the drug war will no longer have funding except for the most egregious pushers, and tort reform will be seriously considered.

While we are at it, let's force all "seized property" to be held in escrow pending trial and all appeals, inspectable by the defense attorneys on 24 hours notice. The defendant doesn't benefit from having the property during trial, and should he be found innocent he gets it back. Oh, or was confiscation a way to tax suspected criminals?
posted by ilsa at 11:44 AM on September 29, 2003


Don't forget the siege at Rainbow Farms, recently profiled on NPR (scroll down for audio link)
posted by TedW at 12:00 PM on September 29, 2003


I have a hard time feeling the same for people in shoot-outs with the police or ignored instructions to drop their gun.

It's three A.M.; you hear someone beating down your door, or climbing in through your back window. Your wife screams; your heart is racing. Is this a home invasion robbery? Will they hurt you? Will they rape your wife? Your daughter? Luckily, you keep a gun for self defense--you grab it up and race to the room from which the noise emanated. You see a masked man, dressed all in black, holding a gun. You shoot him. The rest of the SWAT team, in the process of serving a no-knock warrant, issued for the wrong address at the instigation of an anonymous tip, fires 30 rounds into you. They stray bullets also kill your daughter, who was watching the whole thing.

Yeah, I don't feel for you at all. What were you thinking of, getting into a shoot-out with the police?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:03 PM on September 29, 2003


Thanks for the link. I'd been wondering what happened to Peter McWilliams.
posted by dobbs at 12:04 PM on September 29, 2003


The point being that the tactics used in the drug war are not law enforcement tactics: they are military tactics. In a real war, where civilian death is regrettable, though inevitable, such tactics may be acceptable. In a make-believe war, waged by U.S. law enforcement agencies against the citizens that they should be protecting, such tactics are unacceptable.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:06 PM on September 29, 2003


"The point being that the tactics used in the drug war are not law enforcement tactics: they are military tactics." - mr_roboto, you're right of course but sometimes I get the feeling that the US military is less slipshod. Maybe not, and I certainly am not making a case for military policing, but there's a sick "playing soldier with real weapons" quality to these awful incidents.

What the hell do SWAT teams expect to happen when they blow doors open and rush in with guns - for the residents to telepathically understand "oh, it's OK. It's a SWAT team, not an attack of the Manson Family #2 intent on butchering us in our sleep" and so lie face down on the floor except to shout out (but not too loudly or aggressively) "there's milk and cookies and coffee in the kitchen boys. You're just doing your duty. No hard feelings." ? - of course not. The mayhem is predictable and so the US legal justice system has decided it can tolerate the casualties.

homonculus - too bad that list of yours doesn't also have the wounded, maimed, and psychologically scarred.
posted by troutfishing at 12:33 PM on September 29, 2003


Yeah, I don't feel for you at all. What were you thinking of, getting into a shoot-out with the police?

I had this in mind when writing that:

"Xavier was accidentally shot to death by officers in a pre-dawn drug raid during a gunfight with one of Xavier's relatives."

This relative sure had the well-being of his family at heart when he got into a gunfight with the police and an innocent child was caught in the crossfire.
posted by dr_dank at 12:48 PM on September 29, 2003


Aggressive, heavily armed, pre-dawn raids are an inherently high-risk tactic, particularly from the point of view of innocent bystanders who might be sleeping near the target of the raid. Law enforcement officials are so terrified of the possibility that the suspect might destroy evidence that they are willing to neglect the safety of bystanders in such raids. I'd rather risk the destruction of evidence and the potential acquittal of the drug suspect than the lives of innocent bystanders. The drug warriors do not similarly value human life, apparently.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:01 PM on September 29, 2003


The drug warriors do not similarly value human life, apparently.

It seems incredibly ironic to me that all these people died or were injured in the course of enforcing laws against crimes which are victimless in the first place. The only people who would be hurt by most illegal drug users in the absence of no-knock raids and SWAT teams attacking the wrong houses and all that are the people actually choosing to use the drugs. It's a made-up war against a made-up problem based on disinformation and the perpetuation of ignorance, how many more people have to die or be maimed before people realize this? I find it sad that a country whose history is so deeply rooted in individual freedoms is so dead set against allowing people the freedom to do what they like to themselves in their own homes.
posted by biscotti at 1:31 PM on September 29, 2003


I found this list to be sad, but the only part that surprised me was the brevity of the list. I guess that makes me a pessimist.

I realized the drug war was insane at a young age, when the fifteen year old kid who lived across the street from me got arrested for selling a dime bag to an informant (another kid who had gotten arrested, and made a deal to bust his "dealer"). They raided the home, found about 1/8th ounce of weed and then proceeded to attempt to seize the parent's home and vehicles.

I'm certain the only thing that stopped the police from following through was the fact that they were messing with a very wealthy family who would've attacked the town through every possible legal methodology. If the same thing had happened to an average family, the local police department would've had two new cars in their new driveway.

The drug war has as much to do with drugs as speed traps have to do with increasing road safety.
posted by mosch at 1:47 PM on September 29, 2003


> the actual lawbreakers would of course not be lawbreakers
> if the laws that resulted in both deaths didn't exist?

Or, on the other hand, the actual lawbreakers would not be lawbreakers if they had not broken the existing laws. Something to think about next time you feel the urge to deal, or score: if people quit doing these two illegal things, the police would have no one but innocent bystanders to shoot, which is probably not sustainable for long. Whereas the present so-called war is sustainable, indefinitely, collateral casualties and all. Hope you users feel great about yourselves for helping. Oh, sorry, the rush hasn't hit yet, I'll ask again later.
posted by jfuller at 3:14 PM on September 29, 2003


jfuller, what are you smoking? I need something that totally removes me from reality as well. History has shown that time and time again prohibition fails. Time and time again we've shown that prohibition causes violence. I challenge you to find me a single instance of it working.

But I see your point. If blacks would have stayed with their water fountains then we wouldn't have turn the fire hoses and dogs on them. If those kids at Kent State hadn't been protesting they wouldn't have been killed. If those damned Puritans would've just stopped worshipping wrong they wouldn't have been prosecuted. Thank you jfuller for reminding me that the authority behave always ethically and all laws a just.
posted by betaray at 3:45 PM on September 29, 2003


Very simple change to policies. Let's make municipalities and police departments legally liable for the damage caused by serving warrants (particularly the "no-knock" kind) on the wrong house, against the wrong people, and collateral damage.

They already are. If the proper elements are proven, "victims" can get get injunctions, changes made in local police departments and even cash damages.
posted by Bag Man at 3:50 PM on September 29, 2003


Jfuller:
Of course, it's the pot-smokers fault that these people where gunned down in their own home.
The police just did what they had to do!

Curse that evil demon weed, I tells ya.
posted by spazzm at 3:51 PM on September 29, 2003


So jfuller, you've never broken any laws, right? Never downloaded an mp3, never pirated some software, jaywalked, sped, cheated a bit on your taxes, drove home after a few beers, etc. I suppose you'd be ok with the police gunning down you and your family at 3 am. Have your neighbors ever done any of those things? Remember, a big chunk of that list are people who didn't even have drugs in their homes at all. What happens when the teenager 2 doors down from you is dealing, the cops get a tip to bust him, and show up in your bedroom at 3 in the morning? You'll have nobody to blame but yourself.

On preview, what betaray said. This always happens when I comment
posted by klaruz at 3:52 PM on September 29, 2003


must remember to read options on spell checker before saying ok. must proof read posts
posted by betaray at 3:52 PM on September 29, 2003


ilsa,

See here for an example of what I'm talking about.
posted by Bag Man at 3:55 PM on September 29, 2003


jfuller:

I neither deal nor score; however, I find the current drug policy in the United States morally untenable, and I demand, as a citizen of this democracy, that it be changed. As a mere citizen of a democracy, I have no control over the behavior of individuals--I can hope that people avoid breaking the law, but they maintain free will. When it comes to government policy, on the other hand, I do have a say. I agree that if everyone stopped breaking the law, there would be fewer police-related casualties. I also belive that if the law were changed, there would be fewer police-related casualties. I can act to effect one of these changes; the other I am powerless over.

"Everyone should just stop breaking the law", is about as useful a policy argument as "let's hold hands and pray that our children will be safe from police firing large-gauge shotguns into their backs during poorly executed no-knock drug raids". You might as well suggest that the solution to international conflict is "countries should just stop having wars".

Frankly, jfuller, the harsh defensive tone of your comments makes it seem like you've been drinking. I urge you not to get behind the wheel until you've sobered up.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:58 PM on September 29, 2003


saucer of milk, table nine
posted by shadow45 at 4:18 PM on September 29, 2003


So called casualties of the drug war are not just people who are shot mistakenly by police. People have their lives destroyed by a mistake made when they were younger. Getting arrested for selling anything from ten dollars worth of weed to 10 pounds in South Carolina results in a maximum fine of five years, and $5000 dollars. Not to mention loss of your right to vote, which makes you essentially powerless to change anything. On top of that if you are a minority and poor your chances of getting out of any of this with nothing is small at best. Furthermore you are required by law to disclose this information on any future job application. In reality you should be able to list your accomplishments as a networker, accountant, and occasionally a loan officer. Studies, even those funded by the government, find little wrong with pot, much wrong with aggressive police action, and almost all of these studies recommend treatment over prosecution. How many people a year lose scholarships, lose jobs, and lose the respect of family members and friends at the hands of this war. I suspect that those casualties are much larger in number, and in reality make up more of whats wrong with this war on drugs.


On review if any of you want some links let me know.
posted by sourbrew at 5:45 PM on September 29, 2003


I live in Northern California and about a week ago local law enforcement agents shot and killed two guys for growing pot. (They could have at least waited until harvest....)
posted by blade at 6:27 PM on September 29, 2003


Sorry, what? Selling a joint can result in irrevocably losing the right to vote?

The USA is one mega-fucked-up country, it is. You citizens planning on doing anything about it?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:52 PM on September 29, 2003


Or, on the other hand, the actual lawbreakers would not be lawbreakers if they had not broken the existing laws. Something to think about next time you feel the urge to deal, or score

"Once upon a time, in 1773, a few brave patriots painted their faces, converged upon Griffen’s Wharf, and hurled 342 crates of British tea into Boston Harbor. Paul Revere was there. Samuel Adams organized it. John Hancock was a tea smuggler, and actively supported it. Today, we venerate these men as heros. They all broke the law, because the law was absurd, and deserved to be broken."
from Jeff and Tracy's site
posted by LouReedsSon at 9:20 PM on September 29, 2003


>Or, on the other hand, the actual lawbreakers would not be lawbreakers if they had not broken the existing laws.

Sounds like a great argument for finally removing drug prohibition. If the best you can come up with is some circular reasoning regarding "its illegal so you deserve what you get" while ignoring why it should or should not be illegal other than how law enforcement acts then I'd say you're not thinking as much as knee-jerking.

> Hope you users feel great about yourselves for helping.

Oh please, "users" would love to be able to manufacture their own drugs and have the government out of their lives entirely, but how many years in jail will one spend if they grew three or four cannabis plants in their closet?

This is a classic "prohibition creates criminals" problem with tons of apologists to boot. Yeah, its all the fault of the MILLIONS of people who would like to get high on occasion, not the hard-armed tactics of law enforcement and legislation that refuses to budge. Also, I'd like to hear more about how why alcohol is legal yet these others drugs arent. Should under-21 kids caught with a beer deserve to be shot in the face? Should all the 21 and older users feel responsble for every under-21 fatal alcohol overdose?

According to your logic - yes.
posted by skallas at 6:32 AM on September 30, 2003


betaray:

> jfuller, what are you smoking? I need something that totally
> removes me from reality as well. History has shown that
> time and time again prohibition fails.

betaray, whose post are you reading? I said not a syllable in support of prohibition. I said you'll win the fight against prohibition a lot faster if you fight sober.

> But I see your point. If blacks would have stayed with their
> water fountains then we wouldn't have turn the fire hoses
> and dogs on them. If those kids at Kent State hadn't been
> protesting they wouldn't have been killed. If those damned
> Puritans would've just stopped worshipping wrong they
> wouldn't have been prosecuted.

And you compare the heroic struggle of stoners for the right to get wasted to the above? I hate being pushed around by the government as much as you do, I'm with you that far. But don't you just wish you had an issue a tiny bit less masturbatory and self-involved than the one you've got? I wish you did.


spazzm:

> Of course, it's the pot-smokers fault that these people
> where gunned down in their own home. The police just
> did what they had to do!

Thoreau, from Civil Disobedience:

The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, etc. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgement or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.

If the robots with no moral sense are coming for you, and you're voluntarily impaired when they show up, that's your fault. If they go after innocent bystanders, and you're voluntarily impaired when the innocent need your help, that's your fault.


klaruz:

> So jfuller, you've never broken any laws, right? Never
> downloaded an mp3, never pirated some software,
> jaywalked, sped, cheated a bit on your taxes, drove home
> after a few beers, etc.

Starting with MP3s, yes, no, yes, no, no, no. I am debarred from participating in those battles where I do not have clean hands. Unless I am willing to clean up and stay clean for the duration. "To live beyond the law you must be honest."


skallas:

> Oh please, "users" would love to be able to manufacture
> their own drugs and have the government out of their
> lives entirely, but how many years in jail will one spend if
> they grew three or four cannabis plants in their closet?

My own drug history consists of growing my own weed in the woods and pulling my own psilocybin out of mushrooms (solvent extraction, solvent -> H2O separation, purification by recrystalization.) When I started to feel it was getting too hot to want to do that any more I found that getting stoned was an absolutely trivial thing to give up in the interest of more important shit. It is not, apologies to betaray, anything at all like giving up your religion or your skin color. It's nothing but amusement, and disabling amusement. I mean, you can't even write a coherent "Dear Chief" letter when you're like "uh, what was I thinking about?" Win the freedom battle first, my man. There'll be plenty of time to fry your brain cells afterward.


> Should all the 21 and older users feel responsble for
> every under-21 fatal alcohol overdose?
>
> According to your logic - yes.

Yes. Something to think about the next time you feel like getting sloshed.
posted by jfuller at 9:46 AM on September 30, 2003


Jfuller: You were defending the law. Prohibition is the law. Prohibition is a failure. The law is a failure.

You've got to remember that this is a civil rights issue. Every group of subjagated people is looked down at by they subjugator. Ignorance is not a historical thing. It is alive and well.

But don't you just wish you had an issue a tiny bit less masturbatory and self-involved than the one you've got? I wish you did.

Sure, assume I'm a drug addict. Your points are so specious that ad hominem is about par for the course. I wish wish that you were motivated less by your fear and self interests. You accept the continued destruction of millions Amrican lives because you believe you are morally superior to people with a drug problem.

Where does your line of thinking end? Should we lock up all of those who have unprotected sex? It's another extremely dangerous activity. I support education and treatment (which shockingly also helps for unprotected sex). That's the way to fix the problem. If you had a friend that drank too much, is it your first reaction to try to jail that person? Mine is to try to help. Maybe you don't know anyone who's every had any addiction problems. Maybe you need to get out more.

Are you telling me people just decide to take drugs on a whim, and then when they feel like it they can stop, because you did? You still must be doing something with those 'shrooms because that's not reality. In fact admitting that you did drugs in the past proves my point exactly. People can come off drugs and live productive lives. How much better off would you be now if your had gone to prison?
posted by betaray at 1:11 PM on September 30, 2003


I think this thread proves once again that it is impossible to have a sensible discussion about the U.S.'s drug policy. Whether or not you support the "war on drugs," these types of police tactics are essential crime fighting tools to stop all sorts criminal activity. Yes, sometimes things can go wrong. In fact things can go horribly wrong, that's why citizens have the 4th Amendment, common law lawsuits and Sec. 1983. Despite what what the DrugWar Rant wants you to believe there are serious consequences for raids gone wrong and other types of similar civil rights violations.

I just want to know what’s so hard about separating a drug policy one does not agree with and police tactics?
posted by Bag Man at 1:16 PM on September 30, 2003


Even that's a point of disagreement Bag Man. I don't see lots of no-knock warrants being issued for delinquent traffic tickets. There's not a lot of need for SWAT teams on your average domestic disturbance. Cops run in guns drawn to address noise complaints. Here's the issues:

1. Illicit drug trade has given huge profits to organized crime.
2. These profits give them capital to militarize.
3. Police strategy is based on meeting a threat with overwhelming force. Criminals use their fists; police use a club. Criminals wield a club; police draw a gun. Criminals bring guns; cops start shooting.
4. This has lead to an arms race between crime and the police, and the militarization of our police forces. There is no end to this cycle in sight.
5. This war is having all sorts of unintended consequences.

Many people like myself ask why not recognize that the problem is actually #1, and address the social issues socially and not with force? Why redress when we can stop the problem?
posted by betaray at 2:21 PM on September 30, 2003


"If the robots with no moral sense are coming for you, and you're voluntarily impaired when they show up, that's your fault. If they go after innocent bystanders, and you're voluntarily impaired when the innocent need your help, that's your fault."

And the creators and controllers of the moral-less robots are not responsible, of course.
Are you saying that the police are mindless automatons who kill everyone in their way towards justice - innocent or not - and that this is the way it should be?
posted by spazzm at 5:40 PM on September 30, 2003


Ooops, it just occured to me:
Don't feed the trolls, ladies and gentlemen.
posted by spazzm at 5:41 PM on September 30, 2003


betaray: Your point #1 may well be in error. Or, rather, not fully inclusive.

As the saying goes, "Follow the money."

I posit the drug business is an extremely lucrative business for the government. It certainly is a cash cow for the police, and it is the sole reason the entirety of the DEA remains employed. And come to think og it, the CIA has had their hand in the drug trade, for profit, several times.

One would be naive indeed to think there aren't a lot of strings being pulled in the government to keep the Drug War intact. It's simply too precious to give up.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 PM on September 30, 2003


> Are you saying that the police are mindless automatons who
> kill everyone in their way towards justice - innocent or not -
> and that this is the way it should be?

Certainly not. I said resist, resist to the best of your ability. To do which you have to be clean and sober.

While the current cops'n'cartels system is in place, people who buy and use are supporting the system. Fight the power, stop using. Won't stop buying and using, even while you rant against the system? Actions speak louder than words.
posted by jfuller at 6:56 AM on October 1, 2003


Even that's a point of disagreement Bag Man. I don't see lots of no-knock warrants being issued for delinquent traffic tickets

Maybe not traffic tickets, but are plenty of circumstances were the same tactics are used. (ex: busting up a cock fight ring or entering a home for any crime during exigent circumstances)
posted by Bag Man at 9:55 AM on October 1, 2003


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