Reprinted from Smirking Chimp
The war on drugs isn't a war on drugs. It's a war on people, and this weekend it claimed its latest victim.
On Sunday morning, exactly one week after an encounter with police left him with 80 percent of his spine severed at his neck, Baltimore Resident Freddie Gray died at a local hospital.
He was just 27 years old.
At this time, we still don't know exactly how Gray suffered his "catastrophic" injuries, but video from the moment of his arrest shows him screaming out in pain, and according to family lawyer William Murphy, he was detained at a nearby police station for more than an hour before medics were finally called.
Something bad happened, and it's hopefully only a matter of time before we find out what.
To make matters worse, Baltimore police officials admitted today that the reasons for Gray's arrest are still "vague," and that cops probably just thought that he was "immediately involved or had been recently involved in criminal activity."
In other words, Freddie Gray was probably just guilty of being Black in a neighborhood known for its drug problems.
Thanks to Nixon and Reagan's war on drugs, this is the reality that millions of people of color live with every day all across the US.
They live in fear of law enforcement because law enforcement, instead of trying to protect them, acts like an occupying force.
And, like all occupying forces throughout history, it treats everyday civilians, criminal or not, like they're the enemy.
In this type of situation, collateral damage casualties aren't just likely, they're inevitable.
The irony, of course, is that White people are just as likely, if not more likely, than Black people to use drugs like marijuana.
But because of the racist war on drugs, it's Black people who make up the lion's share of marijuana arrests.
On the one hand, this looks like a big time policy failure, but since the war on drugs was arguably always -- even back in the 1930s when it all started - about criminalizing Black bodies to appease White racists. And in that context, there's an argument to be made that it's worked out exactly as planned.
Whatever you think about the real origins of the war on drugs, though, it's obvious that it hasn't made the US a healthier or a more drug-free country.