Concerned Citizen Launches "Drugs Bring Death" Campaign

Submitted by smorgan on
A bold new anti-drug campaign has emerged in Lima, OH, the site of a shocking drug raid gone wrong in which the SWAT team killed Tarika Wilson -- an unarmed mother of six -- and shot her baby:

For about four hours, Jesse Lowe stood silently by himself holding a cardboard sign with three words scrawled in black marker: "Drugs Bring Death."

His message wasn't aimed just at the dealers or residents of the neighborhood scarred by shootings and fear. He wanted the city to hear him.

In the months since, Lowe's solitary protest has drawn together black and white, rich and poor in a city simmering with anger since a white police officer shot and killed a black woman and wounded her baby during a drug raid. The officer faces trial Monday on negligent homicide and negligent assault charges.

Upwards of 100 people have shown up at many of the nine rallies he's put together, waving "Drugs Bring Death" signs. They've handed out thousands of stickers, T-shirts and signs that now blanket the city midway between Toledo and Dayton. A billboard company donated space on four signs, and businesses have supplied food for the rallies.

"The courage of one man is spreading to everyone," said police Maj. Kevin Martin. "This is what the solution has to be. As police, we're limited in what we can do." [AP]

This is the same department that posted an image on its website that was threatening to the public and even positioned snipers over a peaceful public protest against their own violent tactics.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that in a town plagued by aggressive drug war policing, law enforcement would rally around a man who blames drugs and not the drug war for the suffering that surrounds him. Yet it was police who killed Tarika Wilson and who've kept their mouths clamped shut as the community cried out for answers. Across the nation, police are killing innocent people through needlessly confrontational paramilitary drug raids. It's a disturbing trend that will surely grow worse if we continue to blame drugs themselves for the preventable consequences of overzealous narcotics enforcement. Just look at the effect Lowe's campaign is already having:

"I don't know what caused Jesse to go out there, but thank God," said Bob Horton, a minister. He listens to a police radio scanner at home and has noticed a change in the neighborhood.

"People are calling in more when they see something," he said. "They didn't use to do that."

Unfortunately, the more calls police receive about suspected drug activity, the more mistakes will be made and the more innocent people will be killed. That is just the inevitable consequence of declaring war within our own communities. You get just exactly what you ask for, except, of course, any lasting peace and security.

So while I don't fault Jesse Lowe at all for spreading the message his challenging life has taught him, it's frustrating to see the discussion of drug abuse boiled down to such a simple soundbite. It is precisely the "Drugs Bring Death" mentality that fosters tolerance for the excessive drug war violence carried out by our own public servants. It is that sense of morbid inevitability that prevents too many of us from envisioning an answer beyond the endless war taking place in our own streets.

As long as the drug war continues, there will be no control, no security and no solution. If communities can muster the bravery to stand up to the dealers on their block, let's hope they'll someday join us in challenging the laws that created those enemies and recognize at long last that drugs are only as dangerous as we allow them to be.

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