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Fearing the message

The Victoria BC Police Department, an organization that should be known for its bravery, exhibited a rather extreme act of cowardice recently.

David Bratzer, who volunteers with the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) while off-duty, has been ordered not to speak at an official City of Victoria-sponsored event on harm reduction scheduled for this Wednesday, March 3 at 7:00 P.M.

Even though the event is scheduled outside of his regular work hours, management from the Victoria Police Department, without Bratzer’s knowledge, informed city staff that he was being withdrawn from speaking. Then on February 24, a senior officer at the department directly ordered Bratzer not to participate in the event.

In response to these developments, Bratzer stated: “I will not be attending this event, but I would like to thank the City of Victoria for the invitation to be part of an honest and open discussion about harm reduction. I will try to find other venues to present my views about drug policy.”

Upon learning of the department’s order, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint with the Victoria Police Board.

Bratzer has always taken pains to state that his opinions are his own and do not reflect the views of his employer. He has participated in a number of credible venues related to drug policy during the past year, including delivering testimony to the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs in Ottawa (video available from LEAP).

“The voices of front-line officers who are charged with enforcing the drug laws are incredibly important to the public debate on drug policy issues,” said Jack Cole, a retired American undercover narcotics detective who serves as executive director for LEAP. “Preventing an officer from sharing his firsthand perspective about the harms of our current drug laws with policymakers is a disservice to the entire democratic process.”

Action Alert: LEAP has a petition to show your support for cops like David.

Here is the BC Civil Liberties Association press release:

The BCCLA is concerned that the Victoria Police Department is taking an unduly punitive and anti-free speech position without justification. […] Where an off-duty communication by a member is a critique or endorsement of government or department policy, and it is not stated or implied in that communication that the member is unable or unwilling to enforce the law impartially and according to his or her statutory and professional duties, it is inappropriate for a police department to interfere with that communication.

It’s fear, pure and simple. This action by the Police Department isn’t about policy, or about protecting the reputation of the department. It’s about fearing the message. Period.

We’re a scary bunch. ‘Cause we bring facts that upset the apple cart.

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13 comments to Fearing the message

  • claygooding

    They are afraid,very,very afraid. I so want to live long enough too see and hear America’s and Canada’s marijuana
    inexperienced populace and hear some of the questions that they ask people like Kerli,after a few years of legalized marijuana.

  • kaptinemo

    Typical reaction: don’t like the message, gag the messenger. Robert Anton Wilson’s SNAFU Principle in operation.

    In an aside, it always tickles me when the prohibs drag out their talking points about how the reform movement is rolling in the bucks, supplied by arch-boogeyman George Soros.

    Well, I sure haven’t got anything from him, and I doubt anyone here has. The prohibs are the ones sitting fat and happy, mouths continually clamped on the Gub’mint sow’s teats, while we have to scratch and scrape for every bit of change to keep going.

    We’re like an anorexic standing next to an obscenely fat man, who points at the walking skeleton and loudly complains that we eat too much. And what’s really funny is the fat man is terrified of the near-wraith. They really are scared of us and would kill us if they thought they could get away with it. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so tragic…

  • it is not stated or implied in that communication that the member is unable or unwilling to enforce the law impartially and according to his or her statutory and professional duties

    Indeed that is more than a LOT of police can claim, considering their open defiance of state laws on MMJ.

    Ah, well, discrimination in progress is never pretty.

  • Just me

    What I find funny is that in denying Bratzer to speak out it has the effect of amplifying the message even more. They are boldly saying ” What bratzer has to say is the truth and we know it and wont let him speak it!” There for they are doing more damage to thier lie than just letting him speak. Sounds like a rock( us reformers) and hard place(the prohibition wall we have them pushed up against) situation we got them in.YAY US !!

  • Dante

    Pete is correct, it is Fear that motivates the Police.

    Why would any man, armed to the teeth, shoot a Corgi (my cat is more dangerous)? Fear causes that.

    Why would the same warrior shoot an unarmed child and her mother? Again, Fear.

    Day in and day out, Officers fear for their lives. Over time, it has become acceptable to allow those fears to guide their actions because they know the public cannot hold them accountable.

    We need to start holding them accountable.

  • claygooding

    It is amazing to me that the British police don’t carry guns,except when going on known dangerous assignments and our police look like nazi storm troopers,just to patrol the streets.

  • […] Fearing the message […]

  • VOTE for Legalizing Marijuana on Change.org:

    I am hoping that MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP and others will use their email lists and get behind this vote. They ask us to go support their videos, questions, ideas…. so hopefully they will rally behind us and get their email lists involved. The idea has dropped into 8th place, and there are many that are very close behind. Now is the time for us to be active!

    9 days to go….

    There is time to secure our spot in the discussion and there is plenty of time to lose it. What is your choice???

    MPP, NORML, SSDP, LEAP…. Can we count on you???

    http://bit.ly/cMZCHB

  • Free Radical

    “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!”

  • ezrydn

    I have no doubt David will continue to speak out. He just doesn’t have to tell his boss where or when, especially when it’s off duty and out of uniform. If ever there was a demonstration of a “forced lock step,” this is it.

    Truly, it’s the face of FEAR showing on the part of the prohibs. More and more, they’re taking to trying drastic measures to shut us up. Meanwhile, state legislatures around the country are beginning to turn a deaf ear to the LEOs.

  • KBCraig

    Screw LEAP. When active duty cop Brad Jardis declared that he could not, in good conscience, arrest a medical marijuana user, LEAP kicked him out of their speakers bureau.

    So, they TALK a good game, but when one of their members actually walks the walk, they throw him under the bus.

  • KBCraig,

    You may disagree with their decision, yet the only reason that they are able to have active cops working with them is that there is no way that they can be accused of not doing their job.

    If it became known that LEAP members were failing to do what they were required to do in their job, then merely joining the organization could end up being a reason for being fired.

    David Bratzer is effective because he makes it clear that he’s speaking on his own and not sabotaging his unit.

    LEAP has a very tricky line to walk with active duty members. You may prefer that they go with active disobedience and to hell with the consequences, but they have decided to fight from within the system in order for their message to have more power.

    LEAP has done tremendous things in the short time they’ve been around. It’s pretty disingenuous to say “screw them” just because you disagree with one decision.

  • DdC

    The Peacelike Mongoose by James Thurber youtube

    In cobra country a mongoose was born one day who didn’t want to fight cobras or anything else. The word spread from mongoose to mongoose that there was a mongoose who didn’t want to fight cobras. If he didn’t want to fight anything else, it was his own business, but it was the duty of every mongoose to kill cobras or be killed by cobras.

    “Why?” asked the peacelike mongoose, and the word went around that the strange new mongoose was not only pro-cobra and anti-mongoose but intellectually curious and against the ideals and traditions of mongooism.

    “He is crazy,” cried the young mongoose’s father.
    “He is sick,” said his mother.
    “He is a coward,” shouted his brothers.
    “He is a mongoosexual,” whispered his sisters.

    Strangers who had never laid eyes on the peacelike mongoose remembered that they had seen him crawling on his stomach, or trying on cobra hoods, or plotting the violent overthrow of Mongoosia.
    “I am trying to use reason and intelligence,” said the strange new mongoose.

    “Reason is six-sevenths of treason,” said one of his neighbors.
    “Intelligence is what the enemy uses,” said another.

    Finally, the rumor spread that the mongoose had venom in his sting, like a cobra, and he was tried, convicted by a show of paws, and condemned to banishment.

    Moral: Ashes to ashes, and clay to clay,
    if the enemy doesn’t get you your own folks may.

    How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson’s
    Monticello Poppy Garden from Public Memory
    By Jim Hogshire / Feral House
    Visitors to Monticello don’t learn how Jefferson cultivated poppies, and his personal opium use may as well never have happened.