Category Archives: Unconstitutional Law

5 Startling Numbers Reveal the Militarization of U.S. Drug Policy

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The number of Americans that die each year due to violent crime caused by the drug war

This average death toll of Americans murdered in drug-related crimes is higher than the annual fatality rate of US soldiers in either the Afghanistan or Iraq war. In fact, according to an analytical study of FBI crime statistics, the Vietnam War is the only conflict in the past half-century that has been deadlier for Americans. Disturbingly, this figure doesn’t even take into account the numerous individuals who have been killed by law enforcement in drug-related raids.

$51 billion – The amount that the U.S. government spends each year on the war on drugs

This huge figure, which is $5 billion more than the average annual expenditure on the Afghanistan War, is primarily allocated to arming and training the increasingly militarised law enforcement.  According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), weaponry held by US counter-narcotic agencies for use against American drug suspects includes flashbang grenades, sniper rifles, and submachine guns. There is also an increased prevalence of drug-targeting SWAT teams using armoured personnel carriers – vehicles that were originally created to “transport infantry and provide protection from shrapnel and small arms fire on the battlefield.”

61 percent – The percentage of individuals targeted by drug-related SWAT raids who are people of color

The ACLU investigated the impact rates of SWAT teams in sixteen counties around the US, and in every single one, people of color were disproportionately targeted. In Allentown, PA, Latinos were 29 times more likely than white people to endure a SWAT raid, while Blacks in Burlington, NC, were 47 times more likely than whites to face this violence. This bias treatment is ongoing despite the rates of drug use and selling being comparable across racial lines.

18 months – The age of Bounkham “Bou Bou” Phonesavanh, a recent American casualty of the drug war

On May 28, a team of police officers raided the Phonesavanh’s home, with the mistaken belief that the residents were involved with drugs. As they entered, they tossed a flashbang grenade that landed directly in the crib of baby Bou Bou, which exploded within point-blank range – critically injuring him. In  a harrowing article, his mother, Alecia, described seeing “a singed crib” and “a pool of blood”, and later being informed by medics of the “hole in his chest that exposes his ribs.” Alecia said that the sole silver lining to this story is that it may “make us angry enough that we stop accepting brutal SWAT raids as a normal way to fight the war on drugs.” Fortunately, Bou Bou has been making a gradual recovery, but his family is  relying on donations to support their living and medical costs.

82 percent – The number of Americans who believe that the government is losing the War on Drugs

American polling company, Rasmussen,  reported this staggering statistic, which contrasts considerably with the miniscule four percent who believe that the drug war has been successful. Despite the inordinate human and financial cost of the war on drugs, and its lack of success in quelling drug use or trafficking, Republican and Democrat leaders continue to express anti-democratic defiance as they ignore the will of the people and perpetuate the drug war’s inhumanity.

This article first appeared on the Drug Policy Alliance Blog

http://www.alternet.org/drugs/5-startling-numbers-reveal-militarization-us-drug-policy

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4 Police Tricks to Nab You For Pot and How You Can Beat Them

federal funding to put marijuana users in prison

Cops have a massive incentive to bust people for pot. Here’s how to fight back.

According to the ACLU, marijuana arrests account for over half of all drug arrests—and 88% of those charges are for simple possession. Because of decades-old grant programs, local precincts are showered with money from the federal government if they keep their arrest numbers high. Police have a built-in financial incentive to focus their arrests on low-level drug offenders to fatten their statistics, especially because these are some of the easiest arrests to make. This is a major reason why marijuana arrest rates have gone up in recent years, and why they make up the majority of all drug detentions nationally.

If you’re a cannabis aficionado who chooses to indulge in the herb, you’re a walking dollar sign to the police. Your arrest can directly lead to more bullets, armor, assault rifles and other toys, and may even be used to justify higher wages. You’re more useful to them imprisoned or cited than free, and they will try their hardest to manipulate you into giving them a reason to take you in. They can even make false threats to trick you into waiving your rights.

What follows are the four most common ways police deceive people into incriminating themselves for marijuana possession. Heed these warnings and remember the advice so you can avoid giving the cops a reason to arrest you.

Although our laws are meant to protect everyone equally, some police treat people differently based on a number of factors, particularly race. The ACLU reported last summer that blacks are almost four times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession. Other activist groups have found that law enforcement officers kill one black American roughly every 28 hours. Should you choose to invoke any of the rights detailed below, you must do so while remaining hyperaware of how you are perceived by police based on your race and other class-indicative factors, and then proceed with caution. Unfortunately, that’s nothing new for people of color.

1. Giving officers “reasonable suspicion” by talking too much.A cop has no right to detain you without reasonable suspicion. “Reasonable suspicion” is a murky standard that isn’t as definitive as hard evidence, but requires more than a hunch, as Flex Your Rights explains:

A combination of particular facts, even if each is individually insignificant, can form the basis of reasonable suspicion. For example, police may have reasonable suspicion to detain someone who fits a description of a criminal suspect, a suspect who drops a suspicious object after seeing police, or a suspect in a high crime area who runs after seeing police.
If a cop simply stops and pummels you with questions, he has no right to force you to stick around and answer. In fact, if you’re carrying a bit of bud on you, your best bet for avoiding trouble is to use your constitutional right to silence. Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say you just bought an eighth of deliciously fresh green shimmering with sticky trichomes. You’re walking to a friend’s house for some communal smoking when suddenly a young police officer stops you to ask some questions—just the standard inquiries: Who are you, where are you going, where are you coming from, etc.

You think, “Shit! I’m screwed! But maybe if I’m really nice, he/she will let me go.”

You decide to blab away in an overly polite tone under the delusion that he/she isn’t aware of your charm offensive. You notice your tactic isn’t working, and out of nervousness you begin stammering and giving inconsistent answers—which are cause for reasonable suspicion. The cop then decides to search you, finding your weed and brandishing it in the open, which gives him/her the right to arrest you for having pot in “public view.” You’re cuffed, shunted off to jail and stuck with a petty possession charge.

To avoid such a sour experience, Flex Your Rights recommends that if an officer stops you, you should always ask from the very start, “Officer, are you detaining me or am I free to go?” If the officer says you can go, you can continue on your way. If he/she gives a vague answer or continues to ask questions, continue repeating the magic words until he/she relents.

“If the officer says something like, ‘You’re not being detained. I just want to talk to you,’ then you are free to end the conversation and leave immediately, [without] wait[ing] for the officer to kindly dismiss you,” says Steve Silverman, executive director of Flex Your Rights.

If an officer tells you that you are being detained, that means you’re under arrest, in which case you should definitely inform him/her that you are choosing to stay silent; perhaps you can say something like, “I’m going to remain silent. I would like to see a lawyer.” Because you can be damned sure that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Also, DO NOT run away or trash-talk the cop. These are always causes for reasonable suspicion. Do your best to stay cool.

2. Consenting to a body search.Often, the police won’t inform you of your right not to consent to a search. Sometimes people will consent to a search even when they’re holding weed, either because they don’t know they can say no or because they’re worried about the officer’s reaction.

“The most powerful trick police use to make marijuana arrests on the street is to ask citizens to empty their pockets. Of course, this ‘ask’ generally sounds like a command when police shout, ‘What’s in your pockets? What do you got?’ Silverman of Flex Your Rights says. He also says the vast majority of people stopped will comply with a search regardless of what they have on them out of intimidation or confusion.

“Unless police feel a hard item during a pat-down that could be a weapon, they are not legally allowed to reach into your pockets,” he added.

Your right to refuse a search is expressly noted in the Fourth Amendment, which guards against “unreasonable searches and seizures” by the state. As with refusing to answer a nosy officer’s questions, you are legally within your rights to say no to a physical search unless the officer has a warrant.

“If the police say they have a search warrant, ask to see it. If they don’t, say ‘I do not consent to this search,’” advises the New York City Civil Liberties Union website. An officer may still illegally search you even if you say no, but at least you’ll protect your rights if you have to go to court.

3. Consenting to a vehicle search.This one follows the same legal guidelines of refusing a body search: unless the officer has a warrant, you do not need to give him/her permission to search your car. Calmly inform him/her that you are aware of your rights and that he/she cannot search your vehicle.

However, an officer can still order you out of your car if he/she wishes to do so, and you should comply if they do. Once you are out of the vehicle, the officer may threaten you with false consequences if you continue to refuse a search.

“Beware that police can legally lie to you, so never let false threats or promises trick you into waving your rights,” says Judge William Murphy, a civil liberties advocate.

Once again, if the cop has no warrant or reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle, say the magic words: “Officer, are you detaining me or am I free to go?” Theoretically, he/she would then either give you a traffic citation and leave or just let you go on your way. However, experience has shown that officers sometimes become aggressive or even violent when a person denies a search. All you can really do in that situation is keep calm and continue to shield yourself from judicial damnation by asserting your lawfully guaranteed right to refuse a search.

4. Letting the police enter your home.Without a warrant, you never have to open your door for police. No matter how hard they bang or how many times they smash their pointer against your doorbell, you can leave them out in the cold. Just say no.

Someone should have told that to former UNC basketball player Will Graves before he willfully allowed police to enter his coach’s home last December, which the athlete was renting while he completed his studies. When the cops came snooping at his door on a tip from a meter reader at a utility company, Graves allowed the cops to enter (probably out of fear), and for his courteousness he was cited (fortunately not arrested) for being in possession of a couple of blunts, a grinder and a handful of pot seeds.

Regardless of how unnatural or frightening (exhilarating?) it feels, always say no to a cop who is trying to get into your home without a warrant. You wouldn’t let a stranger in, and that’s exactly what a cop is.

Caveat: One way cops can claim to have “reasonable suspicion” to search your body, car or home is to say they smell marijuana. This is a difficult assertion to guard against since it’s your word against theirs. More than a few people have gone down after a search because a cop claimed to catch a whiff of weed. The “smell” provision overwhelmingly favors the police in most drug cases.

Here’s what Flex Your Rights says about the matter:

“If police say they smell marijuana…[a]ll you can really do is say, ‘Officer, I have nothing to hide, but I don’t consent to any searches.’ If they search you anyway and something is found, you’ll need an attorney to help you fight the charges. Unfortunately, police sometimes use tricks like this to circumvent your constitutional rights and there’s no perfect way to handle the situation. Of course, they are most likely to do this if they are suspicious of you for some reason, so do your best to stay calm.”

Aaron Cantú is an investigator for the Marijuana Arrest Research Project and an independent journalist based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @aaronmiguel_
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/4-police-tricks-nab-pot-beat/#Du8GdjMU7GaG4Qiq.99

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Obama’s Executive Ordered Study Report On Gun Violence Slaps Him In The Face | Guns Save Lives

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If you recall, back on January 16, 2013, standing with little children, Barack Hussein Obama tried to pull a fast one on the American people and issued 23 executive orders pertaining to gun control. Among those was number 14: Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence. Well friends, that study did happen and it destroyed Obama’s position on guns and gun violence.

Well like all things in government, the people tasked with the study simply directed the study to the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. However, many people have not heard about the report. Could it be that much of the information in the report didn’t quite “jive” with Obama and the anti-gun crowd?

Actually, that’s exactly what it did. In fact, not only did they not hold any water for Obama’s claims regarding gun violence, it poured it on him, pretty much backing every Second Amendment lover’s argument that has been made.

The report, titled Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-related Violence, which identifies the particular topics of gun violence to be researched over the next few years, made the point that the majority of deaths that take place annually by the use of a firearm are not related to crime, but to suicide.

“Between the years 2000-2010 firearm-related suicides significantly outnumbered homicides for all age groups, annually accounting for 61 percent of the more than 335,600 people who died from firearms related violence in the United States,” reads the study.

That’s obviously not a good thing. However, it indicates that many Americans suffer from both a spiritual and mental health issue. With that said, let’s not then run to government to deal with mental health issues. I’ve warned before and I’ll warn you now: That would be a very bad move.

Here’s the great news in the report though. It points out that virtually every study which “assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns” discovered the same thing. Those using their guns for self-defense “consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

Oh and remember how we’ve been told by the Obama administration and the socialist gun grabbers that guns aren’t used that often in self-defense? Well, the report shows that isn’t true either.

 

“Defensive uses of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a),” the study reads. “Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year (Kleck, 2001a), in the context of about 300,000 violent crimes involving firearms in 2008 (BJS, 2010).”

 

Yeah, not as uncommon as the propagandists would have us believe.

In all fairness, the report does point out that “some scholars point to radically lower estimate of only 108,000 annual defensive uses based on the National Crime Victimization Survey (Cook et al., 1997).”

While the report does maintain that this will always be a controversy in the field, the study does state that “the estimate of 3 million defensive uses per year is based on an extrapolation from a small number of responses taken from more than 19 national surveys,” while the “estimate of 108,000 is difficult to interpret because respondents were not asked specifically about defensive gun use.”

“A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gun-wielding crime victim,” reads the report.

The report does have a downside. It indicates that we have the most firearm related deaths of any western nation. However, the good news is that the study claims that is rapidly declining.

 

“Overall crime rates have declined in the past decade, and violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past 5 years.” However, “Between 2005 and 2010, the percentage of firearm-related violent victimizations remained generally stable.”

Additionally, the report goes on to inform about other declines. “Firearm-related death rates for youth ages 15 to 19 declined from 1994 to 2009,” the report continues, adding that accidental shootings were declining as well.

 

The report also states that “Unintentional firearm-related deaths have steadily declined during the past century. The number of unintentional deaths due to firearm-related incidents accounted for less than 1 percent of all unintentional fatalities in 2010.”

While everyone recognizes that there will always be crime and violence and yes, even gun violence, the fact of the matter is that gun control is not the answer, except to make sure you control your own gun and hit your target. For sure there will be more data added as the study continues, but already what they do have from the past indicates something that is completely opposite from what this administration has presented and there is no doubt that any information that comes out of the study will be thoroughly scrutinized.

The report also referenced video game violence to see how it might contribute to gun violence, but said that more research would need to be done and no research to the present has been conclusive.

Anyone wondering why Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein aren’t running to the state run media to air out this little report? It’s because they have egg on their face.

One last question that is on my mind is, how much did will this study end up costing the American taxpayer?

Read more: http://freedomoutpost.com/2013/07/obamas-executive-ordered-study-on-gun-violence-slaps-him-in-the-face/#ixzz2YKlFOzyW

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