Newsbrief: Paramilitary Drug Raid Tactics Anger Eugene Residents 12/13/02

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Eugene, Oregon's, Whiteaker neighborhood sounded like a war zone around dawn on October 17, and residents are fighting mad. It wasn't a terrorist attack, though, just another example of a drug war run amok. Police serving a search warrant for an alleged marijuana grow enlisted an armored personnel carrier and 45 SWAT team officers armed with shotguns and automatic rifles to raid a cluster of houses in Whiteaker.

But after throwing flash-bang grenades, kicking in doors, and handcuffing four people -- including one nude woman and one woman dressed only in underpants and a t-shirt -- for hours in a room in one of the houses, police came up empty-handed. Police also admitted to placing a black bag over one of the women's head until she agreed to cooperate with them, the Eugene Register-Guard reported on December 5.

Neighbors are not impressed. Since the raid six weeks ago, resentment has only mounted. "It was completely inappropriate to have that kind of militaristic action there," said Whiteaker Community Council president Majeska Seese-Green. "We don't want it to happen in Whiteaker again, or any other neighborhood," she told the Register-Guard. The community council will issue a formal statement condemning the raid, she added. Seese-Green and three other residents also took the complaints to the Eugene Police Commission, where they questioned the wisdom and safety of such raids.

Not that the police are listening. Instead, officers involved trotted out their tired old excuses for treating the people they are supposes to serve and protect as if they were enemy combatants. "We rely on the element of surprise and speed," said Captain Steve Swenson, head of special operations for the Eugene Police Department. "The third element is the overwhelming display of force when you come through the door," he added, sounding more like Colin Powell preparing to invade Iraq than a police officer making a marijuana bust.

Except it was a marijuana bust that wasn't. No drugs were found, nor any weapons, nor have any formal charges been filed against the victims of the raid. Police have returned all items seized, and the county DA told the Register-Guard the case won't go to the grand jury unless more evidence is developed. Oops.

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Issue #267, 12/13/02 DRCNet Needs Your Help! | Editorial: O, Canada! (Oh, the Embarrassment!) | Canadian House Drugs Committee Calls for Cannabis Decrim, Safe Injection Sites, Heroin Maintenance | Canadian Justice Minister Calls for Cannabis Decrim "Early Next Year" -- US Opposition Could Pose Obstacle | Britain Drops Old Drug Strategy Targets, Goals Were "Not Credible" -- New Strategy a Mixed Bag | Michigan Legislature Repeals Draconian Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences | New Jersey Court Declares State's Civil Forfeiture Funding Scheme Unconstitutional | Newsbrief: Santa Cruz Deputizes Medical Marijuana Providers | Newsbrief: Massachusetts High Court Blocks Arrest of Needle Exchange Participants | Newsbrief: Colombia -- It's Drug War -- No, Oil War -- No, Terror War | Newsbrief: British Ex-Minister Calls Ecstasy Law "An Ass" | Newsbrief: Israeli Green Leaf Party Eyes Knesset Seats | Newsbrief: Illinois Supreme Court Limits Use of Drug Dogs in Traffic Stops | Newsbrief: Paramilitary Drug Raid Tactics Anger Eugene Residents | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: SAMHSA Says Treat Drug Abusers' Mental Illness | Media and Resources: Medical Cannabis Conference Tapes, WOLA Report, Jacob Sullum in Reason, Deborah Saunders in SF Chronicle | Action Alerts: Rave Bill, Medical Marijuana, Higher Education Act Drug Provision, Tulia, Salvia Divinorum | The Reformer's Calendar

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