Monday, June 15, 2015

Drug war thuggery

Drug war thuggery

From the OC Weekly:

The Weekly has received footage from a recent marijuana dispensary raid that appears to show Santa Ana police officers eating pot candy and throwing darts after destroying–or so they thought–all the surveillance cameras inside the cannabis shop.

The video footage shows an officer stuffing something into his mouth and handing something to another cop, who asks him “What flavor?” The officers then laugh. The footage is too grainy to be certain that the item that the officer picks up from the counter of the cannabis shop is in fact a pot edible, although the behavior of the officers suggests this is the case.

Also in the footage: a female police officer joking that she wanted to kick Marla James–a marijuana activist and wheelchair-bound amputee who was present during the raid–in her “nub” . . .

Other footage obtained by the Weekly shows police officers, some of whom are wearing ski masks, battering down the dispensary’s front door and then storming the establishment with guns drawn. The footage also shows the officers using a crowbar to dislodge various surveillance cameras and a DVR machine.

Apparently, Santa Ana just awarded medical marijuana licenses to 20 dispensaries drawn from a lottery. This dispensary was not one of the 20. Hence, the raid. But a judge had also just issued a temporary restraining order in response to a lawsuit from the dispensaries that weren’t chosen. So it’s not entirely clear that this dispensary was breaking the law.

But even if it was, the casual thuggishness and cruelty on display here are really appalling. What justification is there for these cops to destroy the surveillance equipment? And why the face masks and commando tactics? The police department says the video has been edited. But it’s hard to imagine an unedited video that makes this any less outrageous. And if additional video would have provided the context to explain the officers’ behavior, I guess it’s unfortunate for them that they destroyed the other cameras.

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