11.30.2006

Witness Slaying Underscores... Something

Another witness has been murdered in Baltimore. Just try to guess who he was witnessing against.
Dowery's involvement with the justice system began Oct. 13, 2004, as he stood in his doorway. His friend James Wise told him about a plan to rob drug dealers. Dowery tried to talk Wise and Wise's younger companion out of it, but he watched as they went through with the plan.

Then Dowery said he saw the drug dealers' bosses hop into a car and chase after the robbers. He read in the newspaper that Wise had been killed. He decided to tell police what he knew and that he would testify.
Mr. Dowery, a father of 9 had come into the city to be with his relatives for thanksgiving. He was shot after dinner at a corner bar. Of course, the police blame him for having the audacity to visit his family.
Dowery was warned by local and federal authorities not to go back to his old neighborhood, but a major problem in protecting witnesses is keeping them from returning to their homes.

"We cannot take their safety more seriously than they take their own safety," said Gloria Luckett, a victim-witness assistance coordinator for the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.
This is insanity.

The Examiner has the gall to say in their headline that this slaying "underscores Baltimore's problem with witness intimidation." I disagree. It underscores Baltimore's problem with drugs being illegal.

Now, I must admit, this post is coming one day after watching a rather moving episode of HBO's The Wire. If you are reading this and are not familiar with the show, you are doing yourself a great disservice. If you live in Baltimore, and have the desire to see this city live and breath again, you must watch this show.

Yeah, the show is fiction, but the streets they shoot it on are real. The witness slayings, the demonization of witnesses within sections of the Black community are real. The bodies (269 last year, about the same this year) and the ruined lives are definitely real. The culture that has been created by the criminalization of drugs is real and pervasive.

But what can Baltimore do (what can any city really do)? Drugs aren't going anywhere. They are an extremely profitable business, just ask Anheuser-Busch or R.J. Reynolds. I seriously doubt that I will live to see any comprehensive drug policy reform in the country, which is a terrible shame. Baltimore will not heal until drugs are legalized. Neither will Detroit or St. Louis or any town afflicted by the ills of the illegal drug trade. I really wish that there were other options, but I just can't think of any.

It has taken a few years for much of the public to realize the War in Iraq is a losing battle. That our policies are doing more harm than good. That our policies are getting people killed in huge numbers. I wonder when Americans will begin to examine our own war at home and what the policies of that war are doing to Americans every day?

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Are there other major cities in which drugs are handled in a better fashion, even whilst they are illegal?