Category Archives: Drug Policy

Now Available! ~ Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence

Killing Trayvons

Skin privilege. When you’re black it seems the hardest thing to explain to whites. Even the most conscious or liberal whites sometimes don’t quite get it. Or as Langston Hughes once said, “A liberal is one who complains about segregated railroad cars but rides in the all white section.”

The killing of Trayvon Martin in February 2012 rang yet another alarm about the costs of that privilege. Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence tracks the case and explores why Trayvon’s name and George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict symbolized all the grieving, the injustice, the profiling and free passes based on white privilege and police power: the long list of Trayvons known and unknown.

With contributions from Robin D.G. Kelley, Rita Dove, Cornel West and Amy Goodman, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Alexander Cockburn, Etan Thomas, Tara Skurtu, bell hooks and Quassan Castro, June Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Tim Wise, Patricia Williams, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Vijay Prashad, Rodolfo Acuna, Jesmyn Ward and more, Killing Trayvons is an essential addition to the literature on race, violence and resistance.

Killing Trayvons: An Anthology of American Violence is set to be released early Summer 2014.

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Editors:

Kevin Alexander Gray is a civil rights organizer in South Carolina and author of Waiting for Lightning to Strike!: The Fundamentals of Black Politics.

Jeffrey St. Clair is the editor of CounterPunch. His books include Whiteout (with Alexander Cockburn), Grand Theft Pentagon, and Born Under a Bad Sky.

JoAnn Wypijewski regularly writes for The Nation and CounterPunch. Her books include Painting by Numbers.

Published by CounterPunch Books.

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At Least Four Killed by Police Doing Drug Enforcement Actions So Far This Month | July 09

From Drug War Chronicle, Issue #594, 7/17/09

Authorities in Livingston Parish, Louisiana say a deputy acted appropriately in trying to arrest a man at a traffic stop who died while in custody.  Dash cam video of deadly traffic stop released – Updated: July 10, 2009 07:21 AM

LIVINGSTON, LA (WAFB) – The Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office has released the dash cam video of a deadly traffic stop and in doing so said its deputies followed procedure.

The video shows Deputy Chris Sturdivant as he pulls over 42-year-old Adam Stogner. The tape starts with the deputy asking Stogner for his license. It ends with an officer asking the man if he’s still breathing.

Chief Deputy Jason Ard says when the video starts Adam Stogner did not put his truck in park. They say that backs up the reason he was pulled over. The deputy believed he was impaired. On the tape, there is audio of the deputy asking for Stogner’s license. “What you got in your hand? the deputy then asks. “Give me your hand,” he demands. “I don’t have nothing in my hand,” Stogner responds. “I swear to you.”

The media watched the video with Ard and several other law enforcement agents. “Pay attention to the subject’s right hand,” Ard said. On the dash cam video, the deputy tells Stogner to open his hand. Deputies say they believe Stogner was holding a baggy of narcotics in his right hand. The tape shows Stogner moving something from one hand to the other and placing it in his mouth. “Did you see him put it in his mouth? Ard asks. “Right there and this is where the struggle starts,” he points out. “Spit it out!” the deputy tells Stogner.

All this is happening while the deputy was trying to handcuff the man. The deputy does get one cuff on, but because the two seem to be in a wrestling match, Ard says that loose cuff can be a weapon. At several points, there are images of what looks like the deputy hitting Stogner. The sheriff’s office says another time it looks like Stogner is crawling toward the interstate with the deputy on his back. And again, it appears the deputy hits the man.

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Filed under Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, Police Abuse|Brutality|Killings

Walter Cronkite on the United States’ “War on Drugs” | “The Drug Dilemma: War or Peace?”

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. | November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

Walter Leland Cronkite, Jr. | November 4, 1916 – July 17, 2009

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Filed under American Culture, Drug Policy, The Press

Bills to Require Drug Testing for Welfare, Unemployment Pop Up Around the Country

With states across the country feeling the effects of the economic crisis gripping the land, some legislators are engaging in the cheap politics of resentment as a supposed budget-cutting move. In at least six states, bills have been filed that would require people seeking public assistance and/or unemployment benefits to submit to random drug testing, with their benefits at stake.

Drug tests: don't waste the money

Drug tests: don't waste the money

In Arizona, Hawaii, Missouri, and Oklahoma, bills have been filed that would force people seeking public assistance to undergo random drug tests and forego benefits if they test positive. In Florida, a bill has been filed to do the same to people who receive unemployment compensation. In West Virginia, both groups are targeted. In most cases, legislators are pointing to the 1996 federal Welfare Reform Act, which authorized — but did not require — random drug testing as a condition of receiving welfare benefits. But a major problem for the proponents of such schemes is that the only state to try to actually implement a random drug testing program got slapped down by the federal courts.

Michigan passed a welfare drug testing law in 1999 that required all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applicants to provide urine samples to be considered eligible for assistance. But that program was shut down almost immediately by a restraining order. Three and a half years later, the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier district court ruling that the blanket, suspicionless testing of recipients violated the Fourth Amendment’s proscription of unreasonable searches and seizures and was thus unconstitutional.

“This ruling should send a message to the rest of the nation that drug testing programs like these are neither an appropriate or effective use of a state’s limited resources,” said the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project head Graham Boyd at the time.

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Filed under American Politics, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Drug Policy

American Violet

Based on true events in the midst of the 2000 election, AMERICAN VIOLET tells the astonishing story of Dee Roberts (critically hailed newcomer Nicole Beharie), a 24 year-old African American single mother of four young girls living in a small Texas town who is barely making ends meet on a waitress salary and government subsidies.


On an early November morning while Dee works a shift at the local diner, the powerful local district attorney (Academy Award® nominee Michael OKeefe) leads an extensive drug bust, sweeping her Arlington Springs housing project with military precision. Police drag Dee from work in handcuffs, dumping her in the squalor of the womens county prison. Indicted based on the uncorroborated word of a single and dubious police informant facing his own drug charges, Dee soon discovers she has been charged as a drug dealer.

Alfre Woodard and Nicole Beharie

Alfre Woodard and Nicole Beharie

Even though Dee has no prior drug record and no drugs were found on her in the raid or any subsequent searches, she is offered a hellish choice: plead guilty and go home as a convicted felon or remain in prison and fight the charges thus, jeopardizing her custody and risking a long prison sentence.

Despite the urgings of her mother (Academy Award® nominee Alfre Woodard), and with her freedom and the custody of her children at stake, she chooses to fight the district attorney and the unyielding criminal justice system he represents. Joined in an unlikely alliance with an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and former local narcotics officer (Will Patton), Dee risks everything in a battle that forever changes her life and the Texas justice system. AMERICAN VIOLET also stars Emmy Award® winner Charles S. Dutton and Xzibit.

American Violet will be shown at the Philadelphia Film Festival, April 4 & 5 before nationwide release Apr 17.

For more information – http://www.americanviolet.com/

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Asset Forfeiture | Highway Robbery in Texas

Police in small town Tenaha, Texas, near the Louisiana line, have found a way of turning law enforcement into a lucrative racket. According to a recently filed federal lawsuit, police there routinely stopped passing motorists — the vast majority of them black — and threatened them with felony arrests on charges such as money laundering unless they agreed to sign over their property on the spot.

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More than 140 people accepted that Hobson’s choice between June 2006 and June 2008, according to court records cited by the Chicago Tribune, which ran a lengthy article on the practice this week. Among them was a black grandmother who handed over $4,000 in cash and an interracial couple from Houston who handed over $6,000 in cash after police threatened to arrest them and send their children to foster care. Neither the couple nor the grandmother were charged with any crime. The waiver form that the couple signed giving up their rights is particularly chilling. “We agree that this case may be taken up and considered by the Court without further notice to us during this proceeding. In exchange for this agreement, no criminal charges shall be filed on either of us as a result of this case, and our children shall not be turned over to CPS.”

Officials in Tenaha, which sits on a heavily traveled highway between Houston and popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, said they were fighting drug trafficking and were operating in accord with state asset forfeiture law, which allows local police agencies to keep drug money and other goods used in the commission of a crime.

“We try to enforce the law here,” said George Bowers, mayor of the town of 1,046 residents, where boarded-up businesses outnumber open ones and City Hall sports a broken window. “We’re not doing this to raise money. That’s all I’m going to say at this point,” he told the Tribune.

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Angela Davis | “We are Not Now Living the Dream: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Human Rights in the 21st Century”

Dr. Angela Davis

Dr. Angela Davis

Angela Davis speaks on the 40th anniversary of MLK’s death. Davis is professor of history of consciousness and feminist studies at the University of California Santa Cruz.  The lecture – “We are Not Now Living the Dream: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Human Rights in the 21st Century” was given at the Vanderbilt University Law School, April 14, 2008.


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