No time to relax
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You know, whenever I get even moderately complacent, the Drug Policy Alliance
is always there to remind me that we're so thoroughly screwed right now that it's kind of hard to believe:
It's the day after Christmas in 2001. You're 21 years old. After finally putting your 18-month-old daughter to sleep, you're relaxing in your favorite recliner, nodding off in the flickering light of the television show you're only half-watching and the string of Christmas lights around your front window. When you hear the sounds of someone trying to kick in your door, you run to your daughter's bedroom; when someone does break in and kick down her bedroom door, you shoot. It turns out the man you shot is the (white) police chief's son, and as he dies of internal bleeding en route to the hospital you (a black man) are arrested, beaten so badly your bleed from your ear for a week, and are put on death row for five years (until a judge overturns what was a wrongful sentencing). The drugs the cops were looking for (using a warrant that named no one in your household) were never found. This is the case of Mississippian Corey Maye, who is still locked up.
Or: you are 57 years old, getting ready for work in mid-May 2003. It's shortly after six in the morning. A battering ram breaks down your door, and in gets tossed a flash grenade. You can't breathe, you're coughing, and the police don't believe you - they're looking for a stash of drugs and guns they'll never find. Taking no notice of your worsening condition, they handcuff you, and in little more than an hour, though you're finally on the way to the hospital, the heart attack caused by this traumatic violation takes your life. This was Alberta Spruill, a church volunteer and city worker in Harlem.
Or it's November 2006. You're a fierce 92-year-old woman, frightened by the sounds of someone prying off the burglar bars that cover your front door, but determined to protect your home: when your door is broken down you fire one shot at the intruders, before being shot 39 times, handcuffed and left to die while the police (who are the intruders, and as it turns out, have broken down the wrong door) realize their mistake and plant drugs in your basement. This was Kathryn Johnston of northwest Atlanta; two of the cops responsible for her death pled guilty to manslaughter last year, and a third was recently convicted of lying in the cover-up.
Yep, the hits just keep on coming.