This is just an incredibly disturbing video.
A Columbia, Missouri SWAT team breaks into the house of Jonathan Whitworth, shoots and kills a dog in the presence of a small child and the man’s wife, shoots and wounds a second dog, all over a grinder, a pipe and a small amount of marijuana.
And then they haul the guy off in handcuffs and charge him with child endangerment.
Killing dogs is a pattern in drug raids, but it’s rarely caught on video. One of the most disturbing was the handiwork of Joe Arpaio’s squad:
In 2004 one of Arpaio’s SWAT teams conducted a bumbling raid in a Phoenix suburb. Among other weapons, it used tear gas and an armored personnel carrier that later rolled down the street and smashed into a car. The operation ended with the targeted home in flames and exactly one suspect in custody–for outstanding traffic violations.
But for all that, the image that sticks in your head, as described by John Dougherty in the alternative weekly Phoenix New Times, is that of a puppy trying to escape the fire and a SWAT officer chasing him back into the burning building with puffs from a fire extinguisher. The dog burned to death.
Radley Balko at Reason has been documenting for years. Fremont police raided the home of medical marijuana patient Roberg Filgo and shot his Akita nine times but never charged him. A Maryland SWAT team raided the home of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo during a marijuana bust and killed his two black labs.
I’ll spare everyone my own personal rant about the dog shootings, which are pretty much what you’d imagine (I had Jon Walker watch the video first to make sure I wouldn’t be upset for the rest of the day). But count me with Scott Morgan: “You have to see it with you own eyes to fully absorb the brutal callousness of the people who carry out these violent attacks on peaceful families. Even knowing as I do how often events like this take place, I still shuddered while witnessing the suspect’s grief at discovering his dogs had been shot.”
As Peter Guither says, “the really disturbing things are what happened before the video — the truly warped thinking that created the laws and the procedures that made people think this was a good idea.”
Welcome to the war on drugs. According to FBI testimony before the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control this week, marijuana continues to drive it:
[M]arijuana is the top revenue generator for Mexican DTOs—a cash crop that finances corruption and the carnage of violence year after year. The profits derived from marijuana trafficking—an industry with minimal overhead costs, controlled entirely by the traffickers—are used not only to finance other drug enterprises by Mexico’s poly-drug cartels, but also to pay recurring “business” expenses, purchase weapons, and bribe corrupt officials.
Making marijuana illegal drives up the price and the profits. Those profits get channeled through criminal networks, financing the purchase of weapons and escalating violence that endanger the lives of law enforcement personnel. Law enforcement responds in kind, and everyone across the Mexican border gets caught in the crossfire. Illegal immigrants are blamed for a drug shooting and Arizona reacts by passing a crazy law. The impact ripples out to some guy in Missouri who has storm troopers descend on his house and threaten to take his kid away because he’s got some weed. And on and on.
The wish-list for the border in the new immigration bill includes: sport utility vehicles, helicopters, power boats, river boats, portable computers to track illegal immigrants and drug smugglers while inside of a border patrol vehicle, night vision equipment, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Remote Video Surveillance Systems (RVSS), scope trucks, and Mobile Surveillance Systems (MSS). But with marijuana one of the largest cash crops in the United States, it’s an endless game of whack-a-mole.
As horrific as the video from Missouri is, it’s at the low end of the violence meter in the drug war. Is this really a wise deployment of national resources right now?
(h/t Steve Fox of MPP, who have more on this story)
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