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The Killing of Cheye Calvo’s Dogs is a Story That Won’t Go Away

Submitted by smorgan on
Washington Post has a definitive account of the killing of Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo’s dogs that took place during a botched drug raid back in July. It’s an impressive feature that references Radley Balko’s research and really nails down the faulty drug war tactics that brought this tragedy about. As upsetting as the story is, it’s vital that this incident becomes more than a footnote in the long and growing list of brutal drug war excesses that occur everyday in America and beyond.

An accompanying online chat with Calvo included this question:

Washington, D.C.: Mayor Calvo, thank you for courageously speaking up and telling the world about the tragedy perpetrated on your family. I know you have forcefully called for some incremental reforms on the state level, but don't you agree that we will continue to see innocent lives lost in raids gone wrong, billions of dollars wasted on arrests and incarceration, and empowering of violent criminal enterprises as long as drugs are illegal? Isn't the real solution to put drugs into a legal and regulated framework like we did when we legalized alcohol 75 years ago?

Cheye Calvo: Let me say first that I have never done drugs and have a fairly deep personal opposition to them. That said, I also have a serious problem with public policy by metaphor -- and the 'war' allusion is especially dangerous. Clearly, the current policy is a failure, and there needs to be a genuine public discussion here. A federalist at heart, I think that states should have greater leeway to try new approaches. There has to be a middle ground between outright legalization and a military state.

That sounds awfully reasonable and although I’d argue that anything short of a regulated market would continue to produce unnecessary violence, I think Calvo is speaking in a way many people can relate to. I think it’s this type of argument from this type of person that will eventually make a difference in the way the war on drugs is fought in our communities.

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