Saturday, December 17, 2005

More Important Civil Liberty Concerns

In the realm of civil liberty concerns, this is the sort of situation that should really be bigger news. Over on the Agitator, Randy Balco has been spreading the word about Cory Maye, the latest victim of the War on Drugs.

I won't go in to all the details here, and some of the facts are in dispute, but here's the gist of the story: Maye's apartment in Prentiss, Mississippi was raided as part of a drug bust. Living in a duplex, the focus was apparently the other apartment. But Maye's apartment was included in the warrant on the basis of a tip from an unknown informant. That informant will likely remain unknown- The night of the raid, police officer Ron Jones, the officer who supplied the information on which the warrant was based, was shot and killed by Maye- in what Maye claims was self defense, both of himself, and his one-year old daughter, who was in the apartment with him at the time of the raid. The jury didn't believe Maye's claims and he was convicted of capital murder and placed on death row.

Why should we care? The facts alone arouse some suspicion. First, Maye was not named in the warrant. His apartment was named, and the warrant was issued for "persons unknown." No drugs were found in his apartment, although it was later claimed traces of marijuana were found. Regardless, no drug charges were filed against Maye. The real concern of the warrant, Maye's neighbor Jamie Smith, was arrested during the raid. Marijuana was found in his apartment, but no charges were ever filed against Smith. It is unclear whether or not Officer Jones knocked before entering the apartment, or whether or not this was in fact a "no knock raid." It is known that Officer Jones was not a member of the narcotics task force, with no special training to participate in these sorts of raids. Finally, Maye had no criminal record. None at all. And for those of you who might care to think about such things, Maye is black, and Officer Jones was the son of the white chief of police.

Forget about the disputed facts and the racial component for a minute. What we had here was a drug raid for marijuana, and out of the raid, no drug chargers were even filed. Even assuming the facts most favorably to the police, that Maye was involved in selling marijuana, this case is still disturbing. I can't think of any other explanation for Maye shooting Officer Jones other then what he honestly believed to be self defense. Pot dealers don't tend to go around shooting cops.

And why did this have to occur in the first place? Why did a police officer have to die and why is Maye now sitting on death row? For what? Why do we train our police to engage in paramilitary action against our own citizens? Why do we raid people's homes at night for marijuana? This cases raises far too many questions which I wish supporters of the War on Drugs would have good answers for. The problem is, the lonely libertarian doesn't think there are any good answers.


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