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May. 7 2010 - 7:14 pm | 1,591 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Confusing details emerge about Missouri SWAT team warrant

SWAT team prepared

Image by OregonDOT via Flickr

A follow-up to the Missouri SWAT team story. Unsurprisingly, the Missouri police chief has gone on the defensive and started accusing the internets of being comprised of a bunch of liars.

Pete Guither makes an interesting point about the timing of the warrant. The whole reason given for the night raid was that the suspect is a big, bad drug dealer, and the bust had to be a surprise because otherwise he’d transport his mountains of pot he definitely possessed out of the house through — as Pete hypothesizes — complex underground tunnels…or something.

The warrant authorizing investigators to enter Whitworth’s home at 1501 Kinloch Court was executed eight days after Boone County Associate Circuit Judge Leslie Schneider approved it. [Police chief Ken] Burton said the state allows police 10 days to execute a signed warrant, and he thinks Columbia officers should have done so immediately.

Okay, so Tony Soprano Jonathon Whitworth is a criminal mastermind sitting on top of a heap of marijuana, he poses a grave threat to the very fabric of society, and he must! be taken down…next week.

As Guither asks: if the cops could wait a whole week, why couldn’t they wait a few more hours until Whitworth’s wife and son weren’t present?

These are all still minor details when confronted with the larger problems presented in this video, namely the militaristic behavior of the police. I guess the police would claim that Whiteworth’s past leaves him susceptible to police scrutiny. In 2003, Whitworth pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana in federal court and was ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison, according to court documents.

But a man’s past is never an indication of present guilt. The cops found only a small amount of marijuana this time, and somehow that counts as “child endangerment.” Meanwhile, firing automatic weapons in close quarters near a child is just fine policing.

What should not be forgotten in all of this is that the War on Drugs has helped to militarize the police, and alienate them from citizens. Yes, people became angry when they saw the SWAT video, but many contacted me expressing fear, too. If citizens don’t trust the police, then they’re less likely to contact them if they see or hear something suspicious in their communities.

What’s more important: busting a kid for having a water bong, or cultivating trust with citizens? Residents must feel safe communicating with the police if they hear about real criminal activity that doesn’t involve the personal choice of ingesting substances that aren’t alcohol or tobacco (the far deadlier drugs).

As poverty spreads, poor people utilize whatever tools are at their disposal to survive. There are two ways to respond to that trend. A society can either economically segregate and then militarize itself to protect the wealth of the oligarchy, or it can work to alleviate poverty as a means to built build a more egalitarian community.

Right now, America seems preoccupied with the first path. The fancy suburbs have built tall walls and strong gates to keep out the serfs, and the domestically-deployed military cops suppress the poor with an archaic method of population control called the War on Drugs. The rich only leave their guarded tribes in order to purchase drugs from the underclass. The former get high, while the latter go to jail for adding the supply in “Supply and Demand.”

It’s worked out really nicely for the only people who matter — the rich. When the poor dare to build their own enterprise with drugs, the leaders use their domestic army to lock up the undesirables. And now that the prisons have been privatized, players can now make money for every poor, black, and brown head they lock up.

Burton is steamed his department has received rude emails from citizens including comments that describe Columbia police as  “fat donut munching a holes.” He’s right. That’s very rude. However, it’s extremely telling that a derisive comment about the force’s weight has Burton clutching his pearls, while his officers carry on like Missourian citizens have been designated enemy combatants. Which is more offensive?

Death threats are never acceptable, and anyone sending such things to the Columbia police department is hurting the drug decriminalization cause. However, let’s keep these things in perspective. Anonymous e-mailers aren’t part of a uniformed squad, which has been trained and armed by the state, and now operates under the mantra of denying people permission to make personal decisions about their bodies.


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  1. collapse expand

    The U.S. government is currently the biggest dope dealer on earth with U.S. forces protecting the afghan opium-heroin crop and distribution….

    We protect the dope growers in afghanistan with our tax dollars and blodd…..but as soon as the afghan dope hits america’s streets, the local cops move in to arrest the users….which keeps the cops, DA’s, courts, judges, jailers….in fat city

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