How would you react if a large group of men in camouflage and combat boots came bursting through your front door with machine guns pointed at you? Helen Pruett, a 76-year-old woman who lives alone in Polk County, GA, suffered a heart attack when her house was mistakenly stormed by about a dozen local and federal agents looking for suspected drug dealers. Militarized police units are used every day to conduct drug raids and it is getting out of control.
CW: Yes. Armed gunmen raiding homes for cannabis is simply unacceptable. I definitely have PTSD and am always paranoid after being assaulted by government military thugs…
The Polk County raid is not an isolated incident, and it’s not a result of rogue police officersoverstepping their orders. There are more than 100 SWAT raids in America every day, most commonly to serve drug warrants. When police invade homes in riot gear with machine guns and flash bang grenades, they’re following standard procedure.
What’s even more disturbing is that these raids can happen anywhere, to anyone, no matter how minor the offense. Sometimes a crime hasn’t even occurred. Police raid the wrong house or act on information from untrustworthy informants, and completely innocent people wake up in the middle of the night to armed men breaking down their front door.
Congress’s funding of the war on drugs has allowed police excess to escalate out of control. Federal drug war grants for SWAT team equipment and drug task forces create incentives for local police to militarize. Local squads even have access to weapons from thePentagon’s surplus arms stock. Demand an end to federal funding for this misuse of police resources.
The war on drugs isn’t just an ideological battle. It’s a real war, with real weapons and real casualties, waged against American civilians. These dangerous raid tactics show just how far it’s escalated — they’re the end result of the drug war’s militarization of local law enforcement.
Paramilitary raids should not be happening daily in our neighborhoods. They should not be happening when no threat to public safety exists. Police should be keeping the peace instead of treating our communities like war zones.
CW: No shit…
It’s time to push back on politicians who let these raids continue. Urge your members of Congress to stop supporting SWAT raids for nonviolent drug law violations.
Director, Office of National Affairs
Drug Policy Alliance