DRCNet Activist Guide, 1/96

The Police State

In their zeal to pursue the futile strategy of interdiction, police agencies are taking increasing liberties with our liberty. A disturbing pattern of heavy-handed tactics is emerging, in which anything seems to go where there might be a possibility of finding drugs -- and of course, there's always a possibility of finding drugs, so anything goes at any time -- after all, we're fighting a War.

At the Greyhound bus station in Hapeville, Georgia, outside Atlanta, local police staged a sting operation in which they stopped all buses passing through the station and searched passengers' luggage in an attempt to find drugs. The officers were accompanied by drug dogs.

Police in some areas of Ohio have taken to setting up roadblocks, in which they will stop and search all vehicles passing through a given portion of highway, paralyzing traffic.

The air-based Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP), has disturbed the peace of many rural communities. In one area, low flying helicopters and CAMP personnel actions resulting in 100 harassment complaints last spring. Still, former Humboldt County, California Sheriff and CAMP architect David Renner says that marijuana has become a "black hole" for law enforcement, and recommends they "go ahead and legalize it."

Almost as disturbing as the lack of regard for privacy, is the incredible obtuseness that allows Drug War supporters to believe these police-state measures actually have any effect on the availability of drugs. No matter what quantity of drugs are interdicted by the authorities, the drug producers can always set their production levels equal to the demand for drugs plus the quantity of drugs interdicted, so that all the drugs desired by American consumers will always be available. As a recent letter to the editor in the New York Times pointed out, if we can't even keep drugs out of the prisons -- which, after all, are the ultimate police state -- then how can we keep them out of the entire country?

Paradoxically, the inevitable failure of interdiction inevitably leads to calls for escalation of the failed strategy. There is thus a vicious cycle leading to ever greater levels of police control.

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DRCNet Activist Guide, 1/96

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