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Presidential Politics: Bob Barr Criticizes High-Profile Drug Raid on Maryland Mayor's Home

Former Republican Congressman and current Libertarian Party Candidate for president Bob Barr Monday issued a statement criticizing the widely publicized police raid on the home of Berwyn Heights, Maryland, Mayor Cheye Calvo. Barr used the occasion to condemn the generalized use of no-knock search warrants in drug cases and to call for greater accountability for law enforcement misbehavior.

In the July 29 raid, Prince George's county police posing as package deliverymen delivered a package they knew contained 32 pounds of marijuana to the mayor's home. The package waited on the front porch until Calvo returned home after work, when he picked it up and took it inside. Police then broke down Calvo's door, shot his two dogs (one as it was running away), handcuffed Calvo in his underwear for several hours, and cuffed his mother-in-law as well. Police announced last week that Calvo and his family were the innocent victims of a drug smuggling scheme, but have yet to apologize for anything. Local and federal investigations into the incident are underway.

In his Monday statement, Barr, a former US attorney, wrote: "We typically make fun of bungled police operations by saying they were conducted by the gang that couldn't shoot straight. In this case they could shoot straight -- as a result, they killed a family's two dogs in the midst of a misguided drug raid."

The raid was wrong on several levels, Barr wrote, and indicative of a deeper problem with American drug law enforcement. "Rather than carefully checking the facts, including talking to the local police department, the county authorities acted rashly, illustrating how the drug war threatens the liberties of all Americans. The police broke down the door rather than knocking and charged in with guns drawn," he noted.

"Absent exigent circumstances, not present here, so-called no-knock raids are an affront to the Constitution," Barr continued. "So is a shoot first, ask questions later philosophy by the police. Yet the Prince George's police have done this before -- last fall they invaded a house at the wrong address and shot the family dog. All Americans are at risk when the police behave this way. Just ask yourself what might happen if a suspicious package is delivered to your home and the cops bust in," he wrote.

"But there is an even larger point. Law enforcement agencies have become more arrogant and less accountable in cases other than those involving drugs. Most people are aware of well-publicized examples like Waco and Ruby Ridge, but similar abuses are common across the country, though they usually receive little or no public notice," noted Barr. "We all want police to do their jobs well, but part of doing their job well is respecting the people's constitutional liberties."

Barr ended by promising to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies set a good example for the rest of the country. "In a Barr administration, government officials will never forget that it is a free people they are protecting."

Neither Democratic nominee-to-be Sen. Barack Obama nor his Republican counterpart Sen. John McCain have commented on the Berwyn Heights case. Neither has independent candidate Ralph Nader, although given the broadside he launched this week at bipartisan complicity in maintaining the drug war, he can be excused for not commenting on this one, particularly egregious example.

(This article was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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I agree with Mr. Barr

He has my vote. We need a change in the people who "lead" us. They are all pathetic. VOTE FOR BARR!

Norman Lepoff, M.D. retired

Bob Barr

Barr would show true Libertarian principles by not only condemning this misguided raid, but also condemning the entire War On Drugs. Nothing but evil has come of it, or ever will.

Mr Barr is a LINO (Libertarian In Name Only). For the 1st time since 1972, this November I will find it impossible to vote for the Libertarian Presidential candidate.

How sad that the Libertarian Party selected a non-Libertarian rather than a principled candidate this year.

police state

Prohibition has lead directly to the absolute downfall of liberty among our population and professionalism among our law enforcement.

Bob Barr is against the Federal War on drugs

Bob Barr has my vote this November.

pot raids

As a 62 year old white American male who grew up in a small Michigan town I am appalled to see what has become of my country and for that matter the world. I have been a proponent of cannabis since I joined the navy as a teenager, so I have smoked and seen many dozens of other people smoke cannabis. I have never witnessed or heard of any sort of violence associated with this substance and I have not known anyone who used a harder drug because of marijuana usage. Of course you've heard of a zillion other reasons why pot should be legal.

But this subject of raids gone bad, performed by military style swat teams is beyond disturbing. I know it sounds quaint but we've all seen the WW2 movies showing the German nazis breaking down doors. Is it just possible that the present day drug warriors cannot comprehend the horror of life in such a society where the home is no longer a man's castle and where it can be smashed with pets and people being shot by assholes in bullet-proof vests. This raid was absurd, wrong, and scary. And, if there ever was a reason to abolish the drug war, this is it.

The wackos have not only taken over the republican party, they are trying to take over every one of us. These good christians have a "war on terror", a "war on drugs", a "war on poverty", a war on this and a war on that. Do you see a common thread here? It's like my way or the highway and my god is better than your god, therefore I must kill you. I think that maybe a 50 cal. bullet going through a lot of bullet-proff vests is an appropriate response when one of these swat teams invades your home. Who would have ever dreamed that in America, 1500 swat teams throughout the country would be involved in no-knock home invasions for the purpose of finding a marijuana seed or two. Something is wrong. This is not the America I grew up in.

Sam Sharp

"I think that maybe a 50

"I think that maybe a 50 cal. bullet going through a lot of bullet-proff vests is an appropriate response when one of these swat teams invades your home."

It sure is, yo. Fuck these fascist motherfuckers, they have no fucking right. They're villains through and through. If they're not villains, then no one is.. the DEA, all those motherfuckers, straight up villains. They are horrible people.

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