Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jul 2001
Source: Chapel Hill News (NC)
Copyright: 2001 Chapel Hill News
Author: Robert Sharpe


Something is very wrong in this country when an unarmed man can get
shot in front of his family in a Chapel Hill restaurant's parking lot
and nothing is done about it.

I'm not talking about the U.S. marshal on the drug stakeout who
thought the misidentified victim was reaching for something.  The drug
war is to blame.

Throughout the nation, violent drug raids have led to the death of
Americans wrongly suspected of drug possession. Last September,
11-year-old Alberto Sepulveda was shot in the back in Modesto, Calif.,
during a raid. No drugs were found.

Ismael Mena, a father of nine, was killed in Denver, Colo., in 1999
when police raided the wrong house. Also in 1999 in Compton, Calif.,
grandfather Mario Paz was killed in front of his family during a
botched no-knock raid. Again, no drugs were found.

Would the possession of illicit drugs have justified the deaths? We
don't shoot alcoholics or Prozac users in this country. Yet drug
warriors would have the public believe that possession of a relatively
harmless drug like marijuana, which has never been shown to cause an
overdose death, justifies the use of deadly force.

How many more citizens will be sacrificed at the altar of the failed
drug war? This hypocritical war is doing tremendous societal harm at
great expense to the taxpayer, while failing miserably at preventing

Robert Sharpe,
Program officer,
Lindesmith Center-Drug Policy Foundation,
Washington, D.C.

Editor's Note: This letter was submitted via the Web site.
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