Sunday, June 7, 2020

Drugs in the Time of Civil Unrest

Today I read the tragic story of Sarah Grossman, a 22-year-old woman who died of an asthma attack triggered by tear gas deployed at the Columbus, OH, protests.  This got me thinking:  How can our government ban every recreational drug under the sun but tear gas, pepper spray, flash-bangs & other noxious/crippling weapons are perfectly legal for cops to use indiscriminately against citizens?  Beyond the argument that we should be allowed to ingest anything we want because it's our body, they have no right to lock us up, raid our homes, remove our voting rights, charge insane fines & wreck our future employment prospects over something that is a personal choice.  Especially while they're flooding the streets with a potentially deadly gas that was banned internationally as a war weapon in 1997.

Homodox Academy is an antifascist organization on Twitter: "white ...

These protests (and yes, riots) have illuminated so many unjust laws in our society of which this is only one.  As always, Black people bear the brunt of them but we should all be outraged if only for selfish reasons.  Police brutality can happen to any of us.  Tony Timpa--a white man--was murdered in much the same way as George Floyd, with a knee on the neck for 13 minutes.  The NAACP invited his mother to speak at their recent rally in Texas.  We've seen cops behaving badly in cities across the country during these uprisings, bowling over elderly people, running crowds down with police vehicles, destroying medic supplies & killing innocent people like David McAtee, whose body was left in the street for 12 hours after he was shot by cops defending while his BBQ business.  While police are more brutal toward Black & brown people, they are absolutely violent toward anyone they deem oppositional. 

Frighteningly, the DEA has now been given permission to conduct covert surveillance on George Floyd protesters & enforce ANY federal crime committed at the protests.  What could the Drug Enforcement Agency possibly have to do with protests against racism & police brutality?  This sounds like something straight out of the Richard Nixon playbook.  For those who don't know, it's been claimed by a very reliable source that President Nixon started the War on Drugs as a means to criminalize anti-war protesters, Black Panthers & other counterculture groups during the '60s.  "We can't arrest people for being Black, but we can arrest them for using a drug associated with Blackness & hippies."  [paraphrased] 

The FBI used marijuana as an excuse to raid Black Panther Party quarters.

Things have been looking up in the last few years with cannabis laws relaxing & talks of decriminalizing psychedelics in some places, but we must stay on our guard.  The government isn't going to relinquish its last major method of silencing people for a victimless crime, particularly with all these protests & online social justice movements happening.  The idea that voting Trump out of office will fix the threat is naive at best & delusional at worst.  Joe Biden is ardently anti-cannabis (more so than even Trump) & created the RAVE Act which made it a crime to hand out water bottles at raves, resulting in countless preventable MDMA-related deaths.  We must keep the momentum going & remain vigilant about all bills being passed.  Our government has a habit of passing terrible legislation while the news is reporting on other things so we don't notice.

If you're attending any kind of political rally or protest, leave your drugs at home.  Not your lifesaving meds obviously but anything that might get you arrested.  Be sure to erase any incriminating texts on your phone in case a cop gets hold of it.  (This post is being written during the time of the George Floyd protests but applies to ANY future situation where law enforcement is likely to be in attendance).  As a substance user you must be extra aware of the threat of imprisonment & police brutality at all times.  If all the documentaries about prison & wrongful imprisonment haven't given you the heads-up, America is a full-blown police state that incarcerates an insane amount of our population--more than any nation on Earth.  Your chances of ending up there are already high:  I think the official statistics are around 1 in 25 for whites & 1 in 4 for Blacks.  Being a substance user--even a peaceful, otherwise law-abiding one--increases your risk exponentially.  Protect yourself. 


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