A few weeks back, Patrick Dorismond, an unarmed Black man, was accidentally shot to death by an undercover police officer. While some are quick to charge that this is Amadou Diallo all over again, it isn't. In the Diallo case, white officers were in a high crime area looking for rapist. It was late at night, quite dark, and when they called out to Mr. Diallo, he purportedly plunged his hand in his jacket, eliciting a ludicrous barrage of bullets. It was clearly a case of police overreaction and incompetence.
The Dorismond shooting, it should first be noted, involved no white officers. The officers were Hispanic, so Al Sharpton's ability to howl that this was race-driven has been weakened considerably. These policemen were not looking for a particular criminal. They were engaging in a "buy and but," an effort to ferret out any persons who might have any amount of drugs whatsoever to sell. For reasons unclear, Mr. Dorismond reacted to the police's solicitation for drugs and within moments it had escalated in to a grappling match during which an officer's gun discharged, killing Dorismond.
Like the Diallo case, this might be a matter of police overreaction. The facts are not in, and they may never be, so who can judge. What is certain, though, is that this shooting would not have occurred had the police not bothered Mr. Dorismond. Had Mr. Dorismond fit the profile of a particular criminal or had he been engaging in suspicious behavior, police would have been justified in approaching him. Instead, the police were acting as foot soldiers in the Drug War, a pubic policy effort that aims to wipe every illegal pleasure-inducing substance from the lives of Americans. Dorismond had done nothing wrong, and he wasn't carrying any drugs. He was a man out on the town having a drink or two (which was legal, last I checked) and now he's dead from police bullets.
This is not an isolated incident. Not long ago I read that some South American countries are passing laws to limit the quantity of concrete individuals can purchase and to require that he give his name when purchasing it. The reason? Sometimes drugs dealers smuggle their wares within concrete, so, police are going to monitor all citizens' purchases of concrete.
Turn on the 'real-life police shows,' like "Cops," and you'll be horrified at the extremes to which law enforcement will go to find drugs. They go into poor neighborhoods and try to buy and sell drugs and they pull over vehicles of white persons who they catch driving in mostly black areas. You'll also see undercover agents at airports approaching persons with no evidence whatsoever and asking them to submit to being searched. And if they don't, well tough, they'll be searched very slowly so they'll miss their flight.
This is to say nothing of the tyrannical confiscation laws. If the police catch an individual selling a joint they might seize his car and other assets and sell them off because he may have purchased these items with "drug money" or because these items were "tools" in the crime. And God only knows how much money the U.S. government spends to fly planes loaded with pesticides over coca fields in South America.
The point isn't subtle. In the effort to wipe out drugs, governments federal, state and local are increasingly wiping out liberty. They have to. How else can the authorities be certain that they have found every joint, syringe, or hit? Trying to ascertain whether an individual is using, carrying, or selling drugs, requires that police observe him regularly, question him, examine his financial transactions, accost him should he be in any high crime areas, search his person with drug-sniffing dogs whenever they see fit, and so forth. If when approached by police an individual puts something in his mouth, perhaps they'll take him to a clinic and feed him a substance that makes him vomit it back up. Or, they'll just hold him until he defecates whatever he's ingested. This is the only way law enforcement can be sure that they are detecting all illegal drugs.
As should be blatantly obvious, to achieve the end of a "Drug-Free America" requires means that are outrageously invasive and destructive of privacy and freedom. In every war there are casualties. Patrick Dorismond was a casualty of the war on drugs. One only wonders how many more innocent individuals must have their blood spilled before America cries "No More," and demands that the drug war be ended.
Visit Bullymag.com for additional writing by Kevin Kosar