Newsbrief: Border Guard Charged in Beating of Suspected Marijuana Smuggler 7/30/04

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A US Homeland Security border guard faces charges after beating up a Chinese woman tourist he suspected was involved in a small-time marijuana smuggling incident. Officer Robert Rhodes was charged July 21 with violating the tourist's civil rights. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The July 19 incident took place at the US-Canada border crossing at Niagara Falls, New York. Customs officers had seized a small quantity of marijuana from a male pedestrian crossing into the US. A small group of Chinese women tourists was standing nearby. Rhodes, believing the woman he assaulted was involved, allegedly sprayed her with pepper spray, threw her into a wall, kneed her head as she knelt on the ground, and hit her on the head while pulling her hair, according to witness accounts collected by the Associated Press.

The woman was treated at a local hospital and released, but not before being interviewed by a Homeland Security agent. In an affidavit, the agent noted that the woman's eyes were nearly swollen shut and that her head was covered with bumps and bruises.

In an incident report, Rhodes wrote that the Chinese woman and two others ran when he asked them to come inside the inspection station. He also claimed that he pepper-sprayed her after she attacked him.

The Chinese woman tourist was not involved in the pot smuggling incident.

Welcome to America, eh? The one question left hanging, of course, is whether Rhodes would have been charged had his victim actually had a joint in her pocket.

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Issue #348, 7/30/04 Editorial: Too Many Questions | An All-Time High: Nearly 7 Million Behind Bars or on Probation or Parole | MPP, ACLU Sue Nevada to Gain Ballot Access for Marijuana Initiative | DRCNet Book Review: "The New Prohibition: Voices of Dissent Challenge the Drug War," edited by Sheriff Bill Masters (Accurate Press, $14.95 PB) | Newsbrief: British Drug Panel Considering Anti-Drug Vaccinations for Schoolchildren | Newsbrief: Border Guard Charged in Beating of Suspected Marijuana Smuggler | Newsbrief: Justice Department Orders Libraries to Return Asset Forfeiture Documents | Newsbrief: Despite High Court Ruling, Old Drug Conviction Keeps Man from His Kids | Newsbrief: West Australia Quietly Shifts From Drug Arrests to Diversion | Newsbrief: British Marijuana Arrests Plummet Following Legal Reclassification | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | This Week in History | Media Scan: Canada, Canada, Canada, Kerry | The Reformer's Calendar
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