Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Disingenuous “allies” plague Blacks' attempts to better their communities

Disingenuous “allies” plague Blacks' attempts to better their communities By Rashard Zanders Twin Cities, MN – April 23, 2014 – On April 18th, last Friday, a “Safety Summit” was held on Minneapolis' northside, attended by Minneapolis' Mayor Betsy Hodges, Police Chief Jan Harteau and Hennepin County Sheriff Richard Stanek among others. It is with some cynicism that I read Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer Matt McKinney's article “Northside safety summit examines ways to fight crime in Minneapolis neighborhoods,” given the sheriff's position opposing many social justice initiatives that would significantly reduce crime. At the summit, held at the former Minneapolis Public Education building on W. Broadway Avenue on the city's northeast side. Stanek, a former republican state legislator, said, “So often you get behind the curve and you don’t get folks like us together until there’s a polarizing incident and it’s, ‘Oh my God. Now what are we going to do?...The idea was to say ‘OK, who’s got what resources and how can we leverage them?’ ” Given the sheriff's past love of the hated “N” word I suppose he should be applauded now for using the pronoun “us” in his quote. But what I find truly insidious, besides the fact that he was elected sheriff with large support from the city's African American leaders. Yet, away from lights, camera's and the feel good communal hug of a summit, words and deeds betray the veracity of sheriff Stanek's allegiances According to McKinney's article, the northside of Minneapolis has seen one-third of the city's violent crime and half of it's shootings over the last 14 years. Unfortunately for the people who have to live in higher crime areas, the sheriff's actions do not match his words of allegiance in the fight against crime. Consider his September 18, 2013 editorial, “Lax marijuana legislation is bad,” (Star-Tribune, Sept. 18, 2013)(federal anti-drug enforcement funds –good!) in the Star-Tribune on legal marijuana in the aftermath of Colorado's and Washington's legalization of the herb this year. Speaking as the sheriff and as the president of the Major Counties Sheriff's Association, Stanek bemoans that the two states' legalizing of marijuana are in opposition to federal laws which still make it illegal. When the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a statement late last summer pledging not to challenge Washington's and Colorado's new legalization laws, Stanek felt compelled to recite what are now known to be lies and half truths about the dangers of marijuana. “As law enforcement officials with decades of experience, we know that keeping neighborhoods safe will become more difficult for our men and women on the front lines because of the DOJ’s decision.This will encourage other states to legalize marijuana,” he gloomily warned.”. One would think that as a law enforcement official with decades of experience, he would be well informed, intuitively, that prior and current “war on drugs” offensives have not been successful, and have worked only to further entrench a cutthroat mentality and a fratricidal gangster culture among our opportunity-challenged youths. He goes on to resurrect the oft-repeated myth that “Marijuana is an addictive gateway drug that harms Minnesota’s children and public safety in every community in our state.,” and for added measure, “”I have seen firsthand in Hennepin County that there is a direct connection between marijuana and violent crime. “ It is here that the eyes roll to the back of the head and my knees buckled. The relationship between violent crime and marijuana is nil to negligible at best. And it is a fallacy that most visibly betrays his posture as an ally in the fight against crime. The fact is, Stanek, like so many other sheriff's departments nationwide, are addicts themselves: addicted to federal drug enforcement monies which enables the police and courts to stuff prisons and jails with non-violent marijuana offenders. He sites that “drug task forces” have made the connection between marijuana and violent crime, and that 54 percent o f violent inmates booked in Hennepin County jail tested positive for marijuana. What we are not given is what other drugs or alcohol could have shown up in test results. Stanek also offers this unsubstantiated claim: “The DOJ announcement sends the wrong message about the dangers of marijuana, especially to youths. Scientists have concluded that it harms adolescent brains and is linked to both lower IQ scores and learning problems. More teenagers are treated for marijuana abuse than for alcohol plus all other drugs combined. I know, it's a proverbial doozey. He goes on to state that “Those in favor of legalizing marijuana argue that it would eliminate the criminal gangs and violence that result from illegal sales. These are false promises. There is no silver bullet that will eliminate the crime associated with marijuana sales. Governments will put restrictions on legal marijuana such as age limits and, potentially, limits on the potency of the drug. The criminal gangs will conduct illegal sales to those who want to avoid the restrictions. Of couse, having never tried legalization, Stanek is uniquely qualified to declare it as no silver bullet against criminal activity. And simply stating that these are “false promises” doesn't make them false. Significant reduction or maybe even the elimination, naively,of violent crime should be the goal of law enforcement, and eliminating the causes should be a part of that. Legalization might also free courageous law enforcement agencies to go out and fight actual violent offenders, those who should be in prison: murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. It would also free individuals in society to draft legislation going after the white collar criminals who have so destructively ravaged our economy and betrayed the working classes who make it hum. With comments and stances against wise societal policies, and a peon's slavish devotion to a failed and tragic war on drugs, Stanek stands in direct opposition to what crime plagued communities need: Real allies capable of progressive thinking, wisdom, leadership, and a willingness to admit when a philosophy is no longer operational. The Black “leaders” who have embraced this former N word loving beat cop deserve some of the criticism as well, for again trading the needs of the communities they allege to serve for empty political access and social status. The next time we have a crime summit in the Twin Cities, maybe members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) could be invited to provide the needed counterpoint residents and voters may need come next election cycle. Imagine how nice it would be to hear a Hennepin County Sheriff paraphrase something in the “Who We Are” link on the LEAP website: “By continuing to fight the so-called “War on Drugs,” the US government has worsened these problems of society instead of alleviating them. A system of regulation and control of these substances (by the government, replacing the current system of control by the black market) would be a less harmful, less costly, more ethical, and more effective public policy. “ As recently as a few weeks ago Stanek opposed legislation that would save the lives of heroin overdose victims because he feels the priority should be on arresting the dealers over saving the life of the addict. The legislation protecting lives passed over Stanek's objections. We should really hold our allies to a higher standard of social justice. For further reading: Rashard Zanders is a freelance writer currently loitering in TC cafe's. Wishes you were here. He can be reached via email at rashard.zanders or at 872-228-4179.

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