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Ferguson and the Drug War

By Cody Franklin, Opinion Editor

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Ferguson has become a word many Americans have a deep opinionated attachment too. The events, which played out in Missouri the past few weeks, is a mirror for the state of which our country is in.

Everybody has a piece to take away from it. The entire event is almost like a collage of everything wrong with our country, depending on your political bias. Race, police, protestors and gun rights all are all a part of this story, and that’s why Ferguson has become a media firestorm.

We all know the story by now; black teen Michael Brown killed by a white police officer. Protests occurred, looting happened and cops violently cracked down on all involved, both peaceful and not. This sparked national outrage and immediate discussion on the role of race, but why our own police officers are using rifles and military gear in the suburbs of Missouri. This is what I want to talk about.

Even if Michael Brown did attack the police officer, as the Ferguson police stated,  we should be more concerned about the showcasing of military hardware on American streets.

Police action against citizens is the main issue, but it’s also a government issue. Ferguson is only an example of what our nation has led up to for the past 40 years. It signifies what the American people accept as the norm and the balance of power. The use of tear gas on American protesters should be unacceptable. Using APC’s against unarmed citizens and equipping police with items fit for the Middle East battlefield are unacceptable. This is Ferguson, not the Middle East.

Yet we have to ask ourselves why the police have that kind of militarized equipment? Why do our domestic cops act as though they are in a war-zone? Why does the American public sit idly by as the state uses such equipment? One answer is the drug war.

The war on drugs is to blame for many of the issues in the United States legal system. The mass incarceration rate; the largest prison population in the world; the imprisonment for low-violation offenders; not to mention the death of tens of thousands of lives in Mexico every year.  In most aspects, the Drug War has failed. Yet it has succeeded in one area: it has militarized the American police force. The war has gradually transformed the way the average police force interacts with the civilian population. Since this transition has been slow, the American public has come to accept militarization. The war has transformed what is expected of the police officer.

Let me explain.

The Drug War poked the beehive that is the Mexican cartels. We all know of the massive war south of our own border. American marijuana profits fuel the Mexican cartels, giving them more weapons and building armies. The way the United States handled this issue was all wrong. We built up our own force, instead of cutting off the profits. What we have now is a powerful state which can do little to stop the issue.

Instead, the state has turned its attention on the streets. Police are now trained to crack down low-level offenders and raid anywhere there is a tip of illegal drugs. This approach is similar to trying to cut down a tree by chopping at the branches. It is wasteful, harmful and the branch will always grow back.  Continue this process over 40 years and the police will become more funded and powerful, eventually using weapons designed for oversea conflicts.

The Drug War has created a culture which treats the American streets like a war zone. These policies have made the police begin to see themselves as soldiers and distance themselves from the citizens they are meant to protect. By giving the police more funding and allowing them to use violent tactics, we are left with a system which does anything to keep that funding. Thus we begin to see the police themselves defend dirty cops. Acts against journalists or innocent civilians are covered up. Yet there has never truly been coverage of this, until Ferguson .

The Drug War and Ferguson are connected because we see the dark aspect of a police culture come to light. This is what 40 years has led up to. Violent crackdowns, APC’s in the streets and terrible treatment of journalists. We shouldn’t be surprised by this because helped created this problem. When you give people fancy weapons and vehicles, of course they want to use them. So we see excessive use of force, like in Ferguson.

For the past month the media has been looking at the wrong issues. The Michael Brown shooting was not the first of its kind, and it won’t be the last. Actions like this occur all the time in the U.S, but rarely are they ever brought to media attention. This is because the

American people don’t speak out against the actions of the police or government. By not speaking up, we are basically consenting to this kind of treatment.”

— Cody Franklin

What is the solution to this? End the Drug War by cutting off the profits to the cartel. Take away the mindset of war for the average cop. Call out the dirty cops and those who protect them. Change the police culture, and end the policies which created this mindset.

Ferguson will only be a anomaly if there is more coverage of police and government actions. If not, then expect more protests, and more unnecessary deaths.

 

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