Equal Protection Under the Law? Race and Drug Policy 2

Fourty four years ago African Americans were given full voting rights in America. Approximately two weeks later race riots ran through the Watts area of Los Angeles and the right to equal protection under the law became a pipe dream. Overnight the definition of race riots changed from whites marauding and burning communities of color to blacks marauding and burning their neighborhood. One cannot use the term ” own neighborhood ” because the majority of the properties were owned by white absentee landlords.  The riot began when  policeman impounded in the car of alleged drunk driver instead of allowing his sober brother  to drive the car home.  The law may stated that the brothers were entitled to the same protections afforded a white person, but this cop  thought otherwise and the community exploded.  All of the other riots that followed began with police infringement of the law in black communities. But it was hard for the rest of society to understand the explosion of anger coming out of the black community. The answer was simple, although the federal government has awarded blacks Constitutional rights, local governments were not willing to police their communities as they did whites.  As Newark, New Jersey, Detroit, Michigan, Washington, D.C. and other black communities exploded, many whites feared that the rage would eventually turn to white communities. America was making a swing towards conservatism and was tired of the multiple civil rights and anti war protests. “Law and Order” was the slogan of the day and  President Nixon was more than happy to  oblige. President Nixon gave  more money to states to recruit local policeman, and many whites fled to their near gun store to stock up for the impending invasion. The liberties given to police in the time became de rigeur and by the time the “War on Drugs”  was established policing practices in black neighborhoods were even more different than those in white neighborhoods. The fact that we violate the intentions of the founding fathers based on race seems normal today. Many blacks and whites see the fact  that we have the largest jail population in the world as normality. The fact that an extraordinary amount of those inmates are black is simply the world as it is.

The policing policies that are utilized in minority neighborhoods descend from the tactics used during the 1960’s riots. The War on Drugs legitmated, random stops and searches, the death of African Americans (even cops) by  white policeman are simply not used in white communities.  The  rationale used now was our communities were more dangerous  to to the drug  trade  even though narcotic abuse has is also rampant in the white communities, especially with the advance of meth.  Nightmares like the Southern Texas town’s policemen that targeted blacks and Hispanics, threatened them with jail unless they gave up any valuable property they were carrying with them may be an anomaly, but the practices  in Tenaha, Texas used  are similar to those used throughout the country. The introduction of meth into white communities has turned the policies of the War on Drugs against those who were afraid of black drug dealers invading their communities. The New York Times reported last month that the rates  of white incarcerations for drugs  is now higher than that black incarceration.  Experts suggested that there are so many African-Americans in jail for drug offenses,  that there may be less of them to arrest.  As these savagely racist policies backfire on the people that supported them, perhaps the giant of the discrepancies between jail time for powdered cocaine (used by whites)  and crack cocaine (used by blacks)  can be equalized, fulfilling the goals of many activists in all over the country.  Even though the term the “War on Drugs”  has been  scrapped by the current Drug Czar,  no federal movement towards fair sentencing has been made.  Until then the Equal Protection Clause  of the Constitution is applied to all,  will remain a dream deferred for African Americans.


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