“It was terrible. . . . It was the most frightening experience of my life. . . . I thought it was a terrorist attack.”
Those were the words of Leona Goldberg, of Brooklyn, N.Y., 82 at the time, describing the March 31, 2004, “terrorist attack” on her apartment. It wasn’t al-Qaeda, though. These terrorists were from the New York Police Department.
The War on Drugs has brought on the rise of the SWAT team, and a corresponding rise in the number of paramilitary-style raids on homes, a 1300 percent increase over the last 25 years. Towns with only a few thousand residents are suddenly finding that their police department not only has a SWAT team, but that they’re actively breaking down innocent people’s doors and needlessly terrorizing them — and most disturbing of all, killing innocent people with impunity.
“These raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping,” writes Cato Institute policy analyst Radley Balko, “usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as peace officers, but as soldiers.”
Cato has released Balko’s new paper, Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America, which tells some of the stories of the innocent people whose homes were raided, and who lost their lives, to this new form of terrorism. It also documents over 150 examples of botched police raids.
In addition, Cato has provided a Google Map showing the locations of these botched raids, who died in the raids, and whether they were completely innocent. “The map plots every botched raid Iâ€™ve found in my research, with a description of what happened and a list of sources,” Balko said.
Shown this way, it’s a powerful testament to the rise of the police state which has accompanied the War on Drugs.
This ill-conceived and ill-executed war has done nothing but destroy the lives of innocent people, made criminals of millions of people who have done nothing particularly wrong, and overcrowded our prisons with nonviolent marijuana smokers who displace real criminals, such as rapists, robbers and murderers, who must be set free to make room for the pot smokers.
In addition, the War on Drugs, like Prohibition before it, has created a class of organized crime syndicates who deal in the illegal substances, and want desperately for them to remain illegal, so as to preserve their profits. And like Prohibition before it, these criminals shoot up our streets and our neighborhoods to protect their “business.”
When Prohibition was finally recognized as bad policy, it was put to bed, and these sorts of crimes dropped as a result. It’s time for us to recognize that this new prohibition is also bad policy. Otherwise, the next person to be terrorized or killed by a botched police raid could be you.
http://www.homelandstupidity.us/2006/07 ... terrorism/