Tag: Law and Order

Shut Up, Citizen

Radley Balko has been running a series of “Raid of the Day” articles over at HuffPo as preparation for the publication of his “Rise of the Warrior Cop” book (which I’ve pre-ordered). Today‘s should turn your stomach:

On Monday, the Miami Herald posted an article about rising support for legalized medical marijuana in the state of Florida. The article mentioned an pro-pot activist named Cathy Jordan, who uses the drug to mitigate the symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease. The article mentioned Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Lake worth), who is sponsoring a bill to legalize the drug. That bill is named after Jordan.

The Bradeton Herald now reports that just hours after that article ran, a team of ski-mask-clad deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department staged a guns-drawn raid on Robert and Cathy Jordan’s home. According to Robert Jordan, the cops seized 23 marijuana plants, including the two mature plants his wife uses to treat her illness. They made no arrests.

The raid is a stark example of the troubling trend of using paramilitary police tactics to send a political message. Set aside for a moment the sheer cruelty of sending government agents to separate a suffering, terminally ill woman from the medication that gives her some relief. (And yes, that’s a major thing to set aside.) Why ski masks? Why come in with guns drawn? Did the Manatee County Sheriff’s Department really think that wheelchair-bound Cathy Jordan and her 64-year-old husband were a threat?

No, of course they didn’t. This was about making an example of someone. Cathy Jordan’s name is on a bill to legalize medical pot in Florida. So it was up to Florida law enforcement to bring the boot down upon Cathy Jordan’s neck.

Medical marijuana is not legal in Florida and Jordan was breaking the law. I’m not going to disagree with that. But as Balko points out, you have to question the priorities here. Even if we say that busting a terminally ill senior citizen was a wise use of limited police resources, why in the blue fuck would you have a violent raid? These raids are usually justified — often flimsily — by the potential for violent resistance. Ignoring, for the moment, that the threat can be mitigated by grabbing people at work or at their cars during the day, were they expecting this sufferer of Lou Gehrig’s disease to whip out a bazooka?

The cops claim they were tipped off by a real estate agent who saw marijuana plants through the window. I would not be surprised at all if it turns out these plants could not be seen through a window (a common three of the “raids of the day” is bad and bogus tips). I find it difficult to believe that a raid was launched by pure coincidence on the person Florida’s medical marijuana proposal is named after. And given that the cops didn’t arrest anyone and it’s still not clear that they’ll bring charges, I have to think the point was to send a message.

We need to remember something in the debate over legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana. There are legions of people whose livelihoods and careers depend on the War on Drugs. Prosecutors who can get convictions; prison unions and private prisons who can jail the convicted; politicians who get to grandstand. And police and their unions, who see a reason for more hires and often directly benefit from asset forfeiture. Check out this article about the fierce police union opposition to even token reform of Georgia’s asset forfeiture laws.

But returning to the political point — Balko again:

Here is the point: If we’ve reached the point where we’re okay with — or at best complacent about — the government using violence to make an example of someone because of their political activism, then we’ve lost our grip on the principles that make free societies free. That these excessive, militarized raids on medical marijuana grows, clinics, and activists have been going on since the 1990s is a strong — and sad — indication that we let go of those values a long time ago.

Exactly. I keep thinking of Siobhan Reynolds, who advocated for people who need large opiate prescriptions to deal with chronic pain. She was relentlessly harassed and intimidated by federal agents and prosecutors. They even used grand jury privacy laws against her to keep their investigations secret (grand jury proceeding are supposed to be confidential to protect the accused. Using them to conceal government actions is an abuse of the process. And federal prosecutors have shown little interest in grand jury confidentiality in high-profile cases like Barry Bonds).

The Drug Warriors are losing. They are losing the War on Drugs and they are losing the political fight over it. The American people are slowly growing sick of this absurdity and slowly realizing that harm mitigation and treatment are a far better cure for our nation’s drug problem than guns and prisons. But they Drug Warriors will not go down without a fight. And, in this case, the fight is quite literal.

The 71 Year Old Gunslinger

The Second Amendment strikes again:

Details at the link. Basically, two men walked into an internet cafe to rob … wait a minute … internet cafe? Well, actually, the internet cafe is an internet cafe with a casino. You can see the slot machines in one of the reverse angles. It’s a sort of legalized state-sanctioned gambling.

Anyway, these two bozos walked into an internet cafe, guns drawn, ready to rob. But 71 year-old Samuel Williams had a conceal-carry. He calmly took his gun out and opened fire, chasing them off, probably yelling after them to get a haircut. He hit both of them but not fatally. You could argue that means he needs some more time at the range but 95% of us would have been pissing ourselves the whole time so I’m inclined to respect his obviously enormous balls.

Also, there is no question no charges will be brought. This is pretty much the textbook definition of Stand Your Ground.

Update: My absolute favorite part of this video is watching these guys trip over each other as they try to run for the door. Man, we have a low quality of criminal these days.

Real Reporting on Zimmerman

The media are finally getting the idea that George Zimmerman is no some character on TV, but a real person. It’s a good read and gives more background to the situation and him, showing us both his good and bad sides. As you read it, remember how the left wing blogs quickly proclaimed Zimmerman to be an obvious racist, a vigilante thug and a cold-blooded killer.

You can also read about the long history this prosecutor has of over-reach in bringing charges. The case of Marissa Alexander is looking like a travesty of justice far outshining what’s going on in the Martin case. It should be on the nightly news at least as often as the Martin case is.

More of this, please. It’s called “reporting”, for media members who are a little confused by pieces that don’t consist entirely of quotes from the powerful.

The PSU Mess

Ya’ll know that I live in Pennsylvania and that I work in academia. So you can imagine I’m a little conflicted about blogging on the ugly scandal has rocked Penn State this week. So I won’t comment just yet — my emotions are pretty raw. But discuss.

Update: OK, I will say one thing. The only information that is currently public is the grand jury report, which mostly details the vile behavior of the (alleged) pedophile. It only talks about other matters as they relate to the charges that have been brought. Inventing a narrative — favorable or unfavorable — will not advance the discussion.


I can’t imagine what these parents are feeling:

On Wednesday, [parental fears] did come true for one Brooklyn family, as the body of 8-year-old Leiby Kletzky was found dismembered two days after he disappeared on a short walk between his day camp and where he was supposed to meet his parents. The boy, who had implored his parents for permission to walk home from camp alone, got lost and ran into a stranger who, the police said, kidnapped and killed him.

For parents across New York City, the tragedy set off a wave of fear, self-doubt and sometimes fatalism, not seen perhaps for 32 years, since Etan Patz, who was 6, vanished after begging to be allowed to walk alone to the bus stop, just two blocks from his home in SoHo.

There’s a lot of blaming the victim going on, with people saying, “How could the parents let him walk home in this day and age?!” But you know me. I’m a huge fan of Lenore Skenazy’s blog. I think we coddle kids way too much. I constantly note that the crime rate it the lowest it has been in half a century. So I find myself agreeing with Ta-Nehisi:

I think the boy’s parents will spend much of their lives questioning themselves. I am so sorry about that, mostly because I don’t think they did a single thing wrong. I was walking home by age seven, and on mass transit by age nine. I suspect a lot of you have similar stories. Moreover, there is no 100 percent protection for children. This is, by far, the hardest reality for a parent to reckon with.

Having a child is like watching your arm split off from you, grow its own brain and then do whatever it feels like. On some level, it’s still yours, but you can’t control it, you can’t save it, and you can only, within reason, really protect it.

Exactly. 8 years old is not too young to walk seven blocks in a very safe neighborhood. Something like this happens only 50-100 times year. It is dwarfed by the number of children taken by car accidents, drownings and their own evil murderous parents. Here’s what I said on Skenazy’s blog:

The proper response to this is defiance: to not let one sick evil individual force all of us to live in fear and terror. Every day of every year, 60 million children go out into the wide world. Of those, maybe a hundred have something like this happen to them. Is preventing this kind of thing worth raising a generation of terrified, helpless, out of shape kids? Better to teach them how to be aware of their surroundings, how to recognize danger and how to ask people for help. The only way to absolutely prevent this is to chain your kid in the basement.

I once got into an argument with a fellow parent about this (he was of the “my kid can walk to school when’s he’s in college” school of parenting). Toward the end of the argument, he threw out what he thought was the trump card: “It’s my job to protect my kids.”

But he’s wrong. It’s your job to raise your kids. It’s your job to bring them up to be functional, independent human beings who can take care of themselves. As someone who works in a university, I’ve seen the kind of kids helicopter parenting produces — timid, helpless individuals who can not deal with even minor setbacks or difficulties. They can’t talk to a professor about their grade; mom and dad have to do that. They can’t seek out a scientist to do work with; we have to come to them. And their personal lives are a wreck as they either can’t approach the opposite sex or are too childish to conduct a relationship properly (e.g., go to a store and buy birth control).

Kletzky’s parents did the right thing. That it ended in a horrible tragedy is not of their doing.