Excerpts from the Chapter: “What the War on Drugs Became”
No-Knock Warrants/SWAT Teams
Here a quote from the Baker institute that describes the drug war’s use of no-knock warrant’s:
“In the context of our current civil unrest, the drug war’s normalization of aggressive policing within a system already mired in institutional racism has increased the frequency of interactions between citizens and police that have the potential to turn hostile or violent.
Breonna Taylor was killed on March 13 when Louisville police executed a no-knock warrant on her home. The warrant was based on detectives’ belief that Taylor’s boyfriend was using her address to receive packages containing drugs. Thinking that the police were intruders, Taylor’s boyfriend fired at the officers, who then fired back, killing Taylor. In Houston in 2019, Dennis Tuttle and Rhogena Nicholas were killed after a botched no-knock raid that was later determined to be based on falsified information from a narcotics detective.
A popular tactic for surprising suspects, no-knock searches are often led by SWAT teams armed with military-grade weapons. Unsurprisingly, they carry a high risk for deadly violence. A New York Times investigation found that between 2010 and 2016 at least 81 civilians, half of whom were people of color, and 13 officers, were killed during the execution of such warrants. In response to the fatal incidents in their cities, Louisville suspended and Houston largely ended the use of no-knock raids, but most jurisdictions still allow them.” (Harris, 2020)
...The “war on drugs” has increased the number of “pre-textual” stops but the systematic way in which minorities have been targeted in these stops contributes to a conclusion of systemic racism. As was quoted before, there doesn’t have to be intentional discrimination against minorities for there to be systemic racism. There doesn’t have to be a police force or highway patrol force full of racists to have systemic racism. All that is needed is for the system to produce prejudicial results based on race. Study after study shows that America’s system of policing, even at traffic stops, regularly and predictably produces inequitable, harmful, and even deadly outcomes based on race. Here are excerpts from two studies that support and illustrate the differences in outcomes based on race.
“In a study published last April, University of North Carolina political scientist Frank Baumgartner and three colleagues show that the racial disparities seen when cops stop pedestrians are also apparent when they pull over drivers. Looking at 12 years of data from North Carolina, Baumgartner et al. find ‘dramatic disparities in the rates at which black drivers, particularly young males, are searched and arrested as compared to similarly situated whites.’ For example, ‘blacks are 200% more likely to be searched and 190% more likely to be arrested after being pulled over for a seat belt violation; 110% more likely to be searched or arrested following a stop for vehicle regulatory violations; and 60% more likely to be searched or arrested after being stopped for equipment issues.’
The racial differences were especially large for discretionary searches based on consent or probable cause, as opposed to protective pat-downs or searches conducted pursuant to a warrant or after an arrest. Discretionary searches of blacks were less likely to find drugs than discretionary searches of whites, which suggests the extra suspicion blacks encounter has no rational basis. Furthermore, the racial disparities grew over the years, while the likelihood of finding drugs did not.
These differences persist after the data are adjusted for other variables that might affect the likelihood of being searched. ‘Controlling for why and when they were stopped, which officer pulled them over, and whether or not they had contraband in the car, young men of color are much more likely to see adverse outcomes,’ Baumgartner et al. write. ‘Minorities are much more likely to be searched and arrested than similarly situated whites, controlling for every variable that the state of North Carolina mandates to be collected when traffic stops are carried out.’
The Supreme Court has facilitated searches like these by upholding pretextual stops that are ostensibly justified by a traffic violation but are actually aimed at finding evidence of criminal activity—typically illegal drugs. Given the myriad excuses cops can muster for pulling people over, that ruling lets them cast a dragnet that tends to catch a disproportionate number of dark-skinned motorists. ‘Drivers have a sense of when the stops are pretextual,’ Baumgartner et al. note, and ‘being subjected to these pretextual stops is humiliating, threatening, and unjustified.’ They add that if blacks are more likely to experience such stops, ‘it goes to the heart of the question of whether all Americans feel that they are part of a single nation rather than living in separate communities divided by color and subject to differing rights and burdens.’” (Sullum, 2016)
“A large-scale analysis of racial disparities in police stops across the United States
“We assessed racial disparities in policing in the United States by compiling and analysing a dataset detailing nearly 100 million traffic stops conducted across the country. We found that black drivers were less likely to be stopped after sunset, when a ‘veil of darkness’ masks one’s race, suggesting bias in stop decisions. Furthermore, by examining the rate at which stopped drivers were searched and the likelihood that searches turned up contraband, we found evidence that the bar for searching black and Hispanic drivers was lower than that for searching white drivers. Finally, we found that legalization of recreational marijuana reduced the number of searches of white, black and Hispanic drivers—but the bar for searching black and Hispanic drivers was still lower than that for white drivers post-legalization. Our results indicate that police stops and search decisions suffer from persistent racial bias and point to the value of policy interventions to mitigate these disparities.” (Emma Pierson, 2020)
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish