Where’s The Crime In All This?

In 2015 Steve Smith, a Newark native, was arrested for receiving a package delivered by an imposter FedEx delivery driver (an undercover police officer). The package, which remained unopened, contained cocaine. On 2-11-16 Mr. Smith was convicted of possession and trafficking, and sentenced to 11 years in prison. There had been no undercover “buy” or exchange, no gunplay or violence. 3-28-16 DEA.gov reports “Ohio Men Plead Guilty to Selling “Blue Drop” Heroin Mixed with Fentanyl that Resulted in Death”. One of the active and admitted Marion Ohio dealers faces 16 years in prison for one count of drug trafficking that resulted in death, the other 9 (less than Mr. Smith). Recently Harpers Magazine reran a 22 year old archive of an interview by John Ehrlichman with writer Dan Baum during which the former Nixon policy chief admitted the War On Drugs was a fabricated contrivance intended to suppress the newly empowered black vote (“”You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman said. “We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.””). Analysis notes that the amount of time elapsed from when Civil Rights and Voting Rights were guaranteed and Ehrlichman’s tenure with President Nixon was about the same as what has elapsed since the financial meltdown at the end of the George W. Bush presidency and today. Just as “too big to fail” banks today are not only much larger, but subprime is back and greatly expanded to include car/boat/RV loans as well as credit line extensions. Within 10 years of Civil Rights passage, racism reaffirmed itself under a different form, the War On Drugs. Suppression of voting rights under the guise of criminal laws or economic regulations have only increased in the ensuing years. Convoluted voter ID requirements are implemented to cut down on the statistically negligibly occurring crime of voter fraud. Polling times and places have been realigned/consolidated in the name of fiscal austerity. Analysis recently witnessed Katrina-like images of voters lined up waiting for hours into the late night in the Arizona primary. Like Ohio, Arizona diminished polling times and places to save tax payer expense (please, don’t speak of early voting by mail, etc. since who was actually still running became apparent only days before the primary itself. Those who voted early by mail, etc. for candidates no longer running essentially threw away their vote, that is, didn’t vote at all). Deeply committed to such austere measures is Newark’s U.S. Congressional Representative Pat Tiberi who defends his vote against funding ongoing children’s services in a recent Advocate Editorial page guest column (3-27-16). Licking County Jobs and Family Services relies on this source to provide needed (and often court mandated) assistance for non-voting native residents – the children of Newark and Licking County. Tiberi states “Instead of funding a patchwork of untested programs, we have a responsibility now to ensure that hard working Americans’ tax dollars go toward programs that deliver results and change lives.” (Analysis notes Tiberi’s reliance on taxing American workers, and not various tax abated and credited corporations. A digression for another time). As Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb blurted out when informed of Tiberi’s legislating “It’s just a (federal) line item, a drop in the bucket, but we would all feel it very painfully, and the children would feel it.” (The Advocate, County lobbies feds to keep Children Services funding, Kent Mallett, 3-17-16) yet it does regulate, it does make law determining what is allowed and what is to be a crime. Newark’s own McGruff might feign agreement with the CDC that America is in the throes of an epidemic disease of narcotics use and addiction while speaking at the Newark Think Tank on Poverty’s February meeting. Newark Police Chief Barry Connell’s empathy certainly doesn’t prevent him from taking a bite out of crime — sicking his dog on a suspected drugged perpetrator (The Advocate, Police: Dog bite during traffic stop was OK, Bethany Bruner, 3-9-16). Ike, the dog, is only another weapon in the arsenal of the War On Drugs. In a guest column that appeared next to Tiberi’s in the 3-27-16 Advocate, David Greene describes one of the casualties in this war, Steve Smith. Greene decries the injustice perpetrated by the lack of due process but not the law itself. Is the criminal the one who transgressed the law? Or is it those who abuse democracy and their elected office by legislating restrictions and laws meant to suppress and disenfranchise? Where’s the crime in all this?

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