Today around 12:15pm, the Columbia (Missouri) Police Officers Association posted on their facebook page:
This got quite a bit of attention, including from Radley Balko at Huffington Post. I wanted to add some more perspective; I have mapped the 99 SWAT raids conducted by the CPD in the years 2007-2010 here:
It needs to be said that the language and the mentality demonstrated by the officers of the Columbia, Missouri Police Officers Union are racist and utterly inappropriate for people who have sworn an oath to the US Constitution and are pledged to protect and serve the citizens of Columbia, Missouri.
I was pleasantly surprised to see then St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting today about a proposed Good Samaritan law (HB 296) that’s been filed in the Missouri legislature:
Kathie Kane-Willis, director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University, in Chicago, studies addiction-related legislation. Illinois adopted its good Samaritan drug law in 2009.
“We know from research that the biggest fear for calling 911 was fear of police involvement,” she explained.
Kane-Willis said the phenomenon of “body dumping,” with overdose victims dropped off at hospital doorsteps or abandoned in trash bins, “is a reaction of fear and disregard.”
“When someone dies, we cannot get them into treatment, and we can’t prosecute them,” she said. “… (I)t’s about redirecting people to the services they need and making sure people do not continue to die.”
She said the law would provide immunity only from a drug possession charge. “If there is a perception that this is going to be going easy on drug users or sellers, it only provides limited immunity for the one person who calls 911 and the one person who is experiencing the overdose, and that is it.”
McCulloch said he generally opposes granting immunity in any case, but he is open to exploring the legislation.
Missouri’s proposal, based on the Illinois model, is sponsored by Rep. Bryan Spencer, a Republican who represents parts of St. Charles and Warren counties. He did not return a call seeking comment.
Some states, including Illinois, allow doctors to provide a prescription to addicts, or those who are close to them, for naloxone. The injectable drug, commonly known by the trademark name Narcan, can quickly reverse life-threatening effects of an opiate overdose. The prescription option is not included in the Missouri proposal.
Excerpted from Christine Byars, “Proposed Missouri law aimed at saving lives after drug overdoses“, Stltoday.com, 05 March 2013.
Though I would like to see the issue of naxalone access addressed, HB 296 sounds like a great start.
The organization Students for Sensible Drug Policy has advocated for Good Samaritan policies and legislation for years. Here are their bullet points:
With Republican Sponsors for HB 296, Are the Political Winds Changing?
Interestingly, HB 296 is sponsored by Representatives Bryan Spencer (Republican, 63) and Mike Kelley (Republican, 126). Hopefully this session will allow their bill to advance to committee and perhaps beyond. Interested parties should contact their Missouri representative to express support for this legislation.
If you are interested in organizing further on drug policy issues in Missouri, follow Missourians for Drug Policy Reform.
From the NYT:
“The social deprivation and draining of capital from these communities may well be the greatest contribution our state makes to income inequality,” Dr. Braman said. “There is no social institution I can think of that comes close to matching it.”
The recent introduction of a marijuana “decriminalization” ordinance by Alderman Shane Cohn is a move in the right direction for St. Louis. Advocates of sensible marijuana policy should support this move, but should be aware that this ordinance has several deficiencies that should be understood and addressed. Here is the relevant text of the ordinance:
SECTION ONE Unlawful Possession
It shall be unlawful for any person to possess marijuana as defined in Chapter 195.010 et. seq. of the Revised Statutes of Missouri as amended.SECTION TWO Medical Marijuana Exception.Patients for whom marijuana has been legally prescribed by a physician, shall not be in violation of this Ordinance for obtaining possessing or using marijuana pursuant to such prescription.SECTION THREE Penalty Clause.Any person violating this Ordinance shall be subject to a fine of not less than one hundred dollars and not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than ninety days, or by both fine and imprisonment.
First, the law leaves it up to the police on where they’re going to charge someone, in state court under the old law or in city court under the new law.
With about 60 percent support, voters last November approved a measure that prohibits Columbia police officers from arresting anyone for simple marijuana possession. That means anyone found with less than an ounce and a quarter of marijuana can only be given a summons to appear in the city’s municipal court. Police officers no longer have the discretion to refer the case to the district attorney for prosecution by the state. Once in municipal court, the maximum fine that can be levied is $250, regardless of whether the defendant is a first-time offender or has been arrested multiple times.
Supporters of sensible marijuana policy in St. Louis would do well to consider the Columbia ordinance as the standard for marijuana decriminalization as they press forward.
Full disclosure: I was ticketed for possession of marijuana paraphernalia in 2008 by Columbia police and paid about $150 in fines and court costs.
Many thanks to Missouri NORML attorneys Dan Viets and Joe Welch for their discussion of this ordinance proposal with me.
So hopes America’s most ruthless and utterly insane sheriff:
Just as I’d given up hope, I found Arpaio. He was speaking at a rally, hosted by the Arizona Republican party, on a practice field at Mesa Community College, along with a slate of local candidates. Flanked by “Fire Obama” yard signs and a hundred or so supporters in handmade T-shirts with his face on the front above the phrase “True Grit,” Arpaio reflected on why his wife was so eager to keep him out of the house: “I have no hobbies!”
He cited his years as a young DEA agent, where he was called into Mexico to heal a relationship with a local power broker. Arpaio feted his counterpart with blueberry pie and whiskey. “It’s about personal relationships,” he concluded. “It’s not just the big stick.”
Afterwards, for $50, attendees could have their photo taken with Steven Seagal, the Under Siege star who has reinvented himself as a sheriff’s deputy in Maricopa County and far West Texas.
In March, Seagal and Arpaio were sued by a Phoenix man who alleged that the duo had killed his dog during a raid on a cockfighting ring in his house—in which Seagal drove through the front gate in a tank.
I asked Seagal if he was aware of the recent wrongful death lawsuit that had been filed against Arpaio, by the family of a mentally ill man who had died after being tasered in custody. He responded with a question: “Have you seen the film of that?” I told him I had not. “Well, neither have I. But I’d sure like to. And once I’ve seen the film, then I’ll have an opinion.” (Happy with his answer, Seagal turned once more to greet his fans.)
When I approached Arpaio, he’d just finished asking Matt Salmon, a former Republican congressman who’s running again in the state’s newly configured 5th District, to lobby for Seagal as the next Homeland Security secretary, provided he made it to Washington. (“He’d have that border cleaned up in one week,” Arpaio said.) He was much less enthusiastic to talk about his own political future.
The Columbia Tribune reported last week:
In the recording, Copenhaver discusses conversations she says she had with state Rep. Mary Still, a Democratic candidate for the 19th Senate District. Copenhaver says Still contacted her multiple times between January and June asking whether Copenhaver would be interested in running in the Sixth House District instead, leaving Wright to run in the 47th.
In one of the calls, Copenhaver said, Still told her that Wright, a well-heeled investment professional who this year has donated more than $180,000 to his own campaign, would offer to pay for Copenhaver to run in the Sixth.
“She didn’t say ‘we,’ she said ‘he,’” Copenhaver told Richards.
While I don’t live in Mary’s district anymore, and am not going to take a stance on her race against Kurt Schaefer here, it is worth noting that Mary Still’s hypocrisy with respect to “special interests” is typical of the broken and dysfunctional politics that we have come to expect from mainstream Democrats, who have forgotten their principles.
Tangentially, I approached Mary last year asking her to take a stance on the Show-Me Cannabis Regulation initiative. Although she’d given me time in the past to present issues to her (even issues where we disagreed), she told me outright that she wasn’t interested in the subject. Poor way to treat a constituent in my opinion. And Mary’s unwillingness to even listen to the marijuana issue indicates that she is another Democrat who doesn’t really believe in taking care of the poor and politically weak, who are the people worst impacted by marijuana prohibition.
I remember being active for Democrats precisely because I once saw the party as an inclusive, honest institution that had principles and candidates with spine once. There are few of those Democrats left and it is clear Mary is not one of them.
If you liked my speech and want to support my nonprofit (and yes, I know that the banner in the video misspells “forfeiture”), you can visit Americans for Forfeiture Reform at www.ForfeitureReform.com or at www.facebook.com/ForfeitureReform
You should also make a donation through our Indiegogo fundraiser: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/261393?a=294469
Today’s Denver Post:
When GOP House leadership in May killed a bill recognizing civil unions for same-sex couples, politically active gays and lesbians vowed they would fight back. Now, a network of nonprofits and political committees, partly or largely funded by pro-civil- union interests, are using super PACs to fill mailboxes and cable channels with ads aimed at giving Democrats control of both legislative chambers. If that happens, a civil-unions bill could go to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper as early as January.And if they succeed, Colorado — dubbed the “hate state” 20 years ago after voters backed a constitutional amendment prohibiting legal protections for gays and lesbians — could wind up with gay men in charge of both halls of the General Assembly: House Minority Leader Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman, both of whom are from Denver.
Alternatively, the War on Drugs is a War on Babies. This is Chris Wildeman from the University of Michigan:
I’ve always thought it was an absurd proposition that we arrest and prosecute our young men for marijuana possession. Indeed, I remember in my formative years as a middle-schooler the dogs and law enforcement presence that was deployed to intimidate, harass, and arrest children in the public schools for possessing marijuana. I remember asking myself why society needed to act with such force against its youth; why marijuana and drug possession couldn’t be dealt with like any other misdeed, with parental discipline and community support.
Last year I was living at 10th and Cherry, down the street from Harpo’s. Late one summer night the police were called to a ruckus at the Brookside Apartments across the street; there were frequent loud parties featuring all manner of drunken and bellicose behavior, and I thought nothing of it. The next day the news broke…Governor Jay Nixon’s son, Will, had been arrested for marijuana possession, charges that would be later dropped by prosecutors citing lack of evidence.
And this week…news broke that three MU football players, including Doriel Green-Beckham (who is the no. 1 recruit in the nation) were arrested for marijuana possession. Again, I don’t understand…why harass these young men? Why put promising young lives and dreams in contact with the criminal justice system? I generally think that it is unjust for the government to intrude into our personal lives without a pressing societal need…and yes, I presume that neither Mr. Nixon nor Mr. Green-Beckham’s immediate or proximate relationship to marijuana justified the use of force to sanction and punish their behavior.
During those minutes the police were citing and arresting Mizzou’s young men for marijuana, they could have been walking the beat, ensuring that innocent people had recourse in the case of assault. Indeed, anyone who’s ever partied in Greektown knows how drunk and rowdy the town can be at night. When I used to work at restaurants in downtown Columbia, it was common courtesy to walk the female staff to their cars late at night after closing. Clearly, this is a core desire of society for law enforcement: to make the streets safe when people are dangerous.
But instead of being able to guarantee their citizens that this maximum effort is expended on their behalf, our law enforcement chooses to fritter away their valuable time arresting and citing young men for marijuana. Hence we do not receive the full benefit of the law enforcement services paid for by our tax dollars. People are not as safe as they could be because police officers are sniffing for marijuana and not patrolling for safety.
Responsiveness matters in law enforcement. Bottom line.
Ray Hartmann Nails it on Donnybrook
My good friend David Johns pointed me to this recent episode of the St. Louis show Donnybrook (which makes me nostalgic for my old life in St. Louis). At about the 40th minute, CEO of St. Louis Magazine discusses the DGB marijuana arrest, advocates for the legalization of marijuana, and receives a round of applause from the audience.
I’ll leave you here. But remember…our participation in society brings with it a moral obligation to confront injustice and speak on behalf of those who are oppressed. We shouldn’t be arresting young men for marijuana. They deserve their liberty. The public deserves better choices from its law enforcement. To sustain the status quo harms us and maintains the manifest injustice of marijuana prohibition.
I thoroughly enjoy L’Hote, and today Freddie had a post up that resonated with me. Excerpt:
What I am looking for from people who take a hard, pro-Obama line, I guess, is a coherent theory of democracy. Because when I hear people insisting that everyone has got to get on board and let go of their unpopular criticisms, I wonder how they think long term change happens, how political evolution happens. Part of what’s frustrating is that people are so inconsistent in how they say we should proceed. Some say that the important thing is to engage in the process, so you should vote for a third party candidate. But many say that voting for a third party is to throw your vote away. Some say that the place to challenge Democrats to be more liberal (and less militaristic) is through the primary process, but again, during primary season, I read in many places that primarying Obama would be the height of left-wing absurdity. Many just speak vaguely of organizing and agitating, never being exactly clear what kinds of agitating are permitted, or why this theoretical kind is allowed but the kind undertaken by prominent critics Obama is not.From 2002 through 2008, American liberals waged a campaign of resistance and criticism against American aggression in the Muslims world. And for good reason: our conduct since 9/11 has been a profound injustice, involving collective punishment, violation of international laws and egalitarian ethics, and the dehumanization of over a billion people. In response, an apparatus of refusal was created– blogs and documentaries and books and organizations and ideas. This apparatus has proven to be insufficient. But the attempt has meant everything; it has changed the landscape and expanded the boundaries of the possible. Just a few short years ago, this paragraph would be entirely uncontroversial on almost any liberal blog. I’m sorry to say that this appears to have changed.
The Democrats are my preferred political party, warts and all, and I have been a registered Democrat since I have been legally eligible. But I refuse to be held hostage by narrow partisan need, and I sincerely believe that both the moral interests of America and the long term political interests of the Democratic party are served by presenting an alternative to Republican militarism and anti-Muslim aggression. The only way to create that alternative is to press for it, vigorously and without apology. If Democrats prove unwilling to be moved, then the criticism will have to function as the endorsement of another way, of a politics without a party.
So I was invited to a dinner event of the Columbia, Missouri Dinner Train on Facebook. I remember the Dinner Train from a small protest that the Columbia Missourian reported on last year:
A line of 14 people formed at the opening of the Columbia Star Dinner Train Friday night – with no intention to ride.
The Columbia Star’s inaugural run was met by protesters from the disabilities community wielding signs with phrases such as “I would rather be on the dinner train” and “I have wheels, will you subsidize me?”
Protesters began arriving around 5 p.m. to protest the train’s first ride. At the demonstration, many protesters voiced their disapproval of the council’s use of public funding and resources to support the business coming to Columbia.
Last year, the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau approved $45,000 to help move the train to Columbia from Denver, Iowa. About $20,000 more in public money was used to upgrade the exisiting train station’s facilities and prepare them for use. The Columbia Star also uses the city’s rail line, which runs between Columbia and Centralia and the city-owned train station at 6501 Brown Station Road.
“Our biggest problem is that the government gave $65,000 to the business,” Allison Reinhart, one of the protesters, said. “The business being inaccessible is bad, but them giving the train tax dollars is what we’re mad about.”
Anyway, so when I received the unsolicited Facebook invite to the Dinner Train event I left a comment about how the Dinner Train shouldn’t be taking public money to support its business. That’s my view, and I don’t apologize for it, although I recognize that other people disagree with me, sometimes profoundly. I do respect other viewpoints and take them seriously and civilly in the public discourse. Anyway, my comments led an employee of the Columbia Dinner Train, Kyle Brandon Blaeuer, to send me a rather nasty private message:
Hey i just wanted to let you know i’m a Columbia resident and i personally work on this train. I am a college student and I make more money in one day on the train than I make working full time at my other job. You are a stupid fucking sand nigger from Colorado. why dont you waste your time trying to bitch on peoples sites that abuse unemployment or do other things instead of employing people in this town, bringing tax revenue, and helping college students get by. How pathetic are you? go back to your fucking country and stay out of ours! you are nothing but a brown worthless nigger. If our country had more people like you trying to ruin everyone else business then we would be more like your worthless sand-ridden mess of an area you and your worthless bloodline descended. Die and shut the fuck up. Give other people jobs because without this job i’d be in a much worse place. Your pathetic. enjoy ranting about something that happened 18 months ago, and cant be changed, and has helped our community since the first day. I hope you get to give the same for your community. A bunch of stoners and worthless fucks just like you. Enjoy.
I am a natural born citizen (Houston, Texas, 1984). I lived in Columbia for 9 years and put myself through school working in the wine and restaurant industries. I don’t care to disclose my income or charity but I have made substantial investments in the community during my time in Columbia. I now work in Denver as a political consultant though I hope to return to Columbia at some point in the next few years as it is a great place to raise a family. Anyway, I hope Mr. Blaeuer can learn how to disagree civilly over politics and economics and not stoop t0 calling me “sand-nigger” and spewing racist vitriol in the future; otherwise he will remain a discredit to his company and his community.