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November 2003
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Tragedy

Hundreds Attend Slain Boy’s Funeral

Daesean Hill was only 8 years old, but he was eulogized in a packed East New York funeral home Saturday as a “shining light” who could leave a legacy of hope by helping to eradicate the plague of drugs and gun violence…
Daesean, known affectionately as “Dae Dae,” was walking to his home on Hendrix Street with his stepfather, Stelly Chisolm, and two younger siblings when he was caught in crossfire that police say was set off by a drug dispute…
Some at the funeral said they hoped for change, but held reservations.
“I wonder if it will end,” said Sheryl Hinkson, 42, a cousin of Daesean who grew up in East New York and now lives in Baldwin. “The 75th Precinct always leads in homicides. It’s starting to get a little better, but we still have people who are selling these drugs who are causing these problems.”

Make no mistake about it. I believe that the drug dealers who shot this young boy are the scum of the earth and should be put away (in fact, it is those who use violence in drug trade who should be the focus of law enforcement, not non-violent offenders).
It’s the next step that’s tricky. It’s so easy for most people to say “this shows we need tougher laws and stiffer penalties” in response to this tragedy. But as the cousin noted, it doesn’t seem to help.
What is really needed is the truly difficult leap to overcome a natural emotional response. To realize that innocents no longer get caught in the crossfire between criminal alcohol dealers. To understand that the prohibition laws fuel violence through huge illicit profits. To know that advocating a radical change in the law is not the same as excusing violent drug dealers — it is, in fact, a way to shut them down before they can develop. And finally, to fathom that the last thing these drug dealers want is legalization.
This is one of the major challenges of the drug policy reform movement.

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