In November 2006, 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was killed by police during a raid conducted at the wrong house. Ms. Johnston fired at the police officers as they were breaking in through her living room window. Three officers were injured, but Ms. Johnston was struck 39 times and died at the scene.
In July 2007, Mike Lefort, 61, and his mother, Thelma, 83, were surprised and thrown to the ground when Thibodeau, Louisiana police burst into the wrong house with a "no knock" warrant. Thelma suffered from a spike in her blood pressure and had a difficult time overcoming the shock.
In March 2007, masked police officers in Jacksonville, Florida, mistakenly burst into the home of Willie Davis, grandfather of murdered DreShawna Davis, and his mentally disabed son. The pair were forced to the ground, where they watched helplessly as police tore apart the memorabilia from DreShawn's funeral. The drug sale that never happened was said to involve all of two crack rocks worth $60.
One would think after Atlanta police killed 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston, that they would get the idea, but they haven't. Last Friday, 1/4/08, a SWAT team, serving an ordinary drug search warrant, invaded the Ohio home of Tarika Wilson -- an innocent woman -- shot and killed her, and shot her one-year-old son. "They went in that home shooting," her mother said at a vigil that night. The boy lost at least one of his fingers. Two dogs were shot too.
SWAT teams were created to deal with extreme situations, not routine ones. Yet police now conduct tens of thousands of SWAT raids every year, mostly in low-level drug enforcement. The result is that people like Wilson and Johnston continue to die in terror, with many thousands more having to go on living with trauma. But it's all for a drug war that has failed and can't be made to work.
It's time to rein in the SWAT teams. Please sign our online petition: "Enough is Enough: Petition to Limit Paramilitary Police Raids in America." A copy will be sent in your name to your US Representative and Senators, your state legislators, your governor, and the president. When you're done, please tell your friends and please spread the word wherever you can.
This is a first step. Take it with us today, and there can be more. Enough is enough -- no more needless deaths from reckless SWAT raids!
Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/policeraids for more information about this issue, including our October Zogby poll showing that 66% of Americans, when informed about the issue, don't think police should use aggressive entry tactics when doing routine drug enforcement.
StoptheDrugWar.org (still known to many of our readers as DRCNet, the Drug Reform Coordination Network), is an international organization working for an end to drug prohibition worldwide and for reform of drug policy and the criminal justice system in the US. Visit http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle for the latest issue of our acclaimed weekly newsletter, Drug War Chronicle.