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TOTD 25 May 2001

[T]he war on drugs has, since its earliest days, targeted people of color. The fact that skin color has now become a proxy for criminality is an inevitable outcome of this process.

-The American Civil Liberty's Union, "Driving While Black"

If they really believe there is danger from the Negro, it must be because they do not intend to give him justice.

-Booker T. Washington


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 25th, 2001 05:46 pm (UTC)
My father was a cop in NYC and used to brag openly about harassing black folks in various ways. This was in the late 70's/early 80's, but he mentioned on at least one occasion where police planted evidence on a Black Panther when they knew he wasn't guilty. Basically, they had a case with no suspect, and a guy they "suspected" but couldn't arrest. Killing two birds with one stone, as it were.

I don't know if the war on drugs has so much made color criminality by proxy itself, but it certainly gives some corrupt types a means to continue a campaign that was begun while cocaine and laudanum were legal!
May. 25th, 2001 10:12 pm (UTC)
Race the Drug War in Seattle
The Seattle City Attorney's office (I think it was in Seattle... I heard it on the local NPR station this week, but I haven't found it on the web. It might have been at the state government level, but it was definitely in Washington state, where I live) recent released the results of a study they had commissioned about the ratio of blacks to whites in terms of drug use and drug arrests:

Blacks consume about 6% of illegal drugs in Washington State, and yet they account for 57% of arrests for drug possession.

Does this constitute institutional racism, or does it reflect the fact that cops have a much easier time bustin' black kids selling crack on the street down in the hood than they do locating and infiltrating the friendly networks of white folks who distribute weed out in the 'burbs?

How long would the Drug War last if cops went into the white suburbs and behaved like they do in black neighborhoods; harrassing people on the street, humiliating kids and lording their authority over whoever crosses their path?

Speaking of how Seattle police behave in the hood, check this out. It's an article by a writer for the Seattle Times who reports, "...critics charge that Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran has applied the abatement law unfairly and inappropriately."

The so-called abatement law lets cops seize private property in an attempt to reduce the trade in illegal drugs, and that's the same Mark Sidran who's now running for Mayor in Seattle. The current Mayor, Paul Schell, owns the heat for the WTO unrest a couple years back, and he could easily go down in flames in the next election regardless of who runs against him.

From the article:

Sidran dismisses community concerns about racism as "too fantastic." Yet of the 28 cases I was able to review through public records requests or through the King County Courthouse, all but five involved black homeowners or black small-business owners. Only one out of the 28 involved a white property owner. In other words, Sidran lodged 96 percent of these drug abatement cases against minorities in a city where minorities make up roughly 25 percent of the population.

Anyway, I'll quit ranting and refer you to a previous rant on the topic of Seattle area police and a comic I did on the topic of race and the Drug War.

Thanks for passing on the tales from your dad.
May. 26th, 2001 07:23 am (UTC)
Those remind me of this Noam Chomsky quote:

The more you can increase fear of drugs and crime, welfare mothers, immigrants and aliens, the more you control all the people.
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