Equal Injustice Under the Law
This week, a report shows Seattle police arrest black drug dealers in far greater numbers than the white dealers that dominate the local trade and constitute the majority of users; a Catholic school in Chicago will require drug testing of all students next Fall; 17 students from a South Carolina high school file a lawsuit against their principal and local law enforcement over a heavy-handed drug raid that yielded no drugs; and U.S. medical marijuana advocate and cancer survivor, Steve Kubby, who sought refugee status in Canada had his claim rejected.
December 1 -- The Seattle Times reports: Drug dealers arrested by Seattle police are most often black, even though whites dominate the drug-dealing trade and constitute the majority of users, according to a report being released today.
The 78-page report was written by Katherine Beckett, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington, as part of pending litigation against Seattle police. The report, as well as the civil lawsuit, contends police drug- enforcement tactics target racial minorities, who the report says represent a relatively small percent of those selling drugs in Seattle.
December 5 -- The Chicago Tribune reports: All 1,000 boys attending a Northwest Side Catholic high school will face mandatory drug screens next fall, a new requirement that lands them smack in the middle of a simmering national debate. St. Patrick High School officials said Wednesday the school will be the first high school in the Chicago area to require drug testing of all students.
Across the country, the usefulness of drug-testing programs is under debate. A study this year by University of Michigan researchers showed no significant difference in drug use between schools testing for drugs and those that don't.
December 6 -- The South Carolina State reports: Seventeen Stratford High School students are suing the city of Goose Creek and the Berkeley County school district in federal court, alleging police and school officials terrorized them in a drug raid last month.
Individuals named as defendants in the suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Charleston, include: Stratford High School principal George McCrackin; Berkeley County school superintendent Chester Floyd; Goose Creek police Chief Harvey Becker; and Goose Creek police Lt. Dave Aarons.
The suit also names the city of Goose Creek, its police department and the Berkeley County School District as defendants. School officials declined to comment on the details of the lawsuit but expressed regret about the incident.
The Nov. 5 raid by police and school officials has created a national firestorm, in part because it was caught on videotape by the school and made available to a local television reporter. Stratford officials have said they had reason to believe drugs were being sold in the hallway before classes started, but no drugs were found in the raid.
In the suit, the students provide details of what happened to them on Nov. 5 when police burst into the school to conduct the raid. Maurice Harris, a 14-year-old freshman, said one officer pointed a gun at his face. "Maurice can still see the end of the barrel looking him in his face," the suit said.
December 8 -- Canadian Broadcasting Company reports: A U.S. medical marijuana advocate who sought refugee status in Canada had his claim rejected Monday.
Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board ruled that Steve Kubby did not have a well-founded fear of being persecuted or tortured, or that there was any risk to his life if he returned to his home state of California.
Kubby had said the 120-day jail term he was ordered to serve in California on minor drug charges would be a death sentence. He claimed if he did not smoke pot every hour he would die from complications from adrenal cancer. Kubby fled to British Columbia in 2001 to avoid the jail sentence. He then filed a refugee claim to avoid being deported.
The board noted that California does permit the medical use of marijuana in some cases. The board also ruled against the refugee claims of Kubby's wife, Michele, and their two daughters.
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