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July 2004
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Joel Miller knows the truth.

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Joel keeps getting me to link to his new book, but it’s worth it. His latest article at World News Daily titled “Kill zone” is excellent and draws more material from his new book.
The article deals with victims of the drug war, many of whom I’ve discussed on my Drug War Victims page. He mentions Clayton Helriggle, Alberta Sproul, and John Adams. He also talks about some that qualify, but didn’t make my Drug War Victims page simply because they lived.

On Nov. 20, 2002, for instance, three cousins — Salvador Huerta, Marcos Huerta and Vicente Huerta, all young men who worked at a San Antonio restaurant — were sitting around their apartment after work watching TV. Around 8 p.m. a dozen SWAT officers invaded the home, firing tear gas, allegedly shouting profanities and violently beating two of the men.

“We were kicked and punched at least 20 times,” said Salvador, who suffered a broken front tooth and a swollen face. Marcos’ face was cut and his head bruised. Vicente, the lucky one, didn’t stick around for his. He lit off instead of taking the boot. After a vain search for drugs and guns, the police realized they were at the wrong apartment. According to the San Antonio Express-News, “police apologized several times and went five apartments down and arrested two people. …”

He also talks about the problems I’ve noted here many times before — military-style tactics in police engagements:

The problem goes back to the metaphor itself. War and policing are vastly different. In common parlance the military’s job is to kill people and break things. As Reagan administration Assistant Secretary of Defense Lawrence Korb puts it, soldiers are supposed to “vaporize, not ‘Mirandize.'” On the other hand, police are trained to solve problems with scrupulous attention to suspects’ civil rights and with a multitude of solutions, lethal violence being the last rung on the escalating ladder of force. No-knock raids race up the ladder, going straight to the threat of lethal force.

Some police chiefs recognize the contradiction in roles and the danger of mixing them. “I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted,” said Nick Pastore, former police chief in New Haven, Conn. Pastore said he “turned it all down because it feeds a mindset that you’re not a police officer serving a community, you’re a soldier at war.”

It’s an excellent article. Take a moment and read the whole thing. This is an important issue in the drug war and we need to make sure everyone hears about it.
I want to take a moment to thank those readers of Drug WarRant who have spread the word about Drug War Victims. A number of you have given a link to it on discussion boards, and suddenly I’ll have several hundred new viewers to this page, many of whom thought drug policy reform was only about a bunch of stoners who wanted to smoke pot legally. They read about the victims and respond “That is really f*#%ed up!” They get outraged and want to do something about it. That’s what we need — tell people to read Joel’s book or his article. Tell them to visit my page. Get them upset. They need to be upset.
(Thanks to Patrick)

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