Oakland Officials Fooling Themselves If They Think Drug Crackdown Will Curb Violence for Long

The San Franciso Chronicle has reported that 30 suspected drug dealers were arrested in a crackdown on drug hot spots on Thursday. More arrests are planned as the sweep continues. Mayor Jerry Brown explained the reason for doing the sweeps:
"This violent subculture is very much connected to the sale of drugs in the same locations, year after year.''
Talking tough for the media, Brown continued:
"Oakland is not the place to do criminal business."
Captain Dave Kozicki added to the tough talk:
"Every drug dealer out there should be looking over their shoulder, wondering whether or not they, in fact, sold to an undercover officer."
Maybe some Oaklanders will be impressed, but I'm not. Frankly, I think comments like Brown's and Kozicki's are pretty silly. Clearly Oakland is a place to do drug dealing, or the drug dealers wouldn't be there. Do they seriously believe the drug trade isn't going to continue, in basically the same form, with at most an extremely brief (probably already over) and highly partial reduction? Or just moving to different locations? Obviously these are not the first drug arrests Oakland police have made during the "year after year" to which Brown referred. While I didn't look at all the details, a search of the SF Chronicle's archives going back to 1995 on the words "Oakland Drug Sweep" pulled up 130 listings -- I'm sure they weren't all really about drug sweeps, but a lot of them clearly were. Guys, the drugs are still there from after the last time you did this, and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that... The way to make Oakland -- and all of our cities -- no longer places to do criminal business is to end prohibition. Sweeps and busts only move the trade from place to place or hand the business from one seller to another. Only drug legalization can actually make that kind of crime not pay. Let the Chronicle know what you think by sending them a letter to the editor. Send us a copy using our new <?php print l('contact form', 'contact', NULL, NULL, NULL, NULL, TRUE); ?> -- select the "Copies of Letter You've Sent" option -- or post a copy in the comments here below.
Oakland, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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In Response To The Article by David Borden

Upon reading this article - I began to feel David's passion - Until he got to the legalizing drugs part. I thought this to be the most idiotic method in removing the war on drugs. It is a socialist's answer to everything. That is, of course, If the foxes have taken over the chicken coup....

Why not focus on the community?
Why not get the parents involved?

This isn't a war on drugs, just like guns' don't kill people.....Think about it.

borden's picture

a response to our anonymous friend...

I don't know if the anonymous poster will be back here to read my reply, but here it is: It is not intellectually accurate to categorize drug legalization as "socialist" as socialism is a big government political philosophy while legalization would be a reduction in the size of government.

Community and parental involvement in guiding their children into healthy lifestyles is a good thing. But prohibition isn't required to have that and many of us think prohibition undermines it. There will always be substantial amounts of drug use in our society, just as there has been in every society in history, regardless of how much "involvement" there is in trying to reduce it.

Lastly, our anonymous commenter did not actually rebut my point: Only drug legalization can make that kind of crime (open-air drug selling) not pay. He or she just called it "idiotic." In my experience those who throw out words like those are the ones who've thought through or read up on the issues the least...

David Borden, Executive Director
StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

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