Saturday, May 22, 2010

Molotov Cocktails thrown at medical facility -- who cares?

Molotov cocktails were thrown at the Planned Parenthood Clinic and the Billings Women's Center in Billings, Montana on Monday, May 10. Two weeks later there were demonstrations in twelve cities around the nation. Protesters blocked the entrance to the U.S. Justice Department in Washington, DC demanding an investigation of these crimes of terror by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the FBI.

Wait, this never happened.

What happened is two medical marijuana dispensaries were firebombed, according to The Washington Post. The targets were Big Sky Patient Care and Montana Therapeutics in Billings. On May 14, police released security video from Big Sky Patient Care.

I congratulate Americans for Safe Access for promptly condemning this act of terrorism. But I did not see a similar statement by any other national organization (and I plead guilty for being silent as well, I am ashamed to say).

This crime is a Federal felony, set forth in Title 18, United States Code, section 844(i):

Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other real or personal property used in interstate or foreign commerce shall be imprisoned by not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years.
And we know that this involved interstate commerce thanks to the 6 to 3 decision of the United States Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Raich in 2005.

Medical marijuana patients and their family, friends and supporters are so used to the routine violence directed against them by the government, that when non-government criminals attack them, the political movement that supports patients is too desensitized to respond. As victims, we have internalized the role of victim and its attendant expectations.

Why is this crime different from throwing a firebomb into the SSDP office on campus, or the MPP or DPA office?

Is the firebombing to be dismissed as simply local vandalism? No, it was clearly a political act to express disapproval of the newcomer unwanted by some. This fire is akin to the burning of a cross on the lawn of the first African-American family to move into the white neighborhood by the Ku Klux Klan. No one may be physically injured, but the message of terror is unmistakable.

Political attacks by DEA and state and local law enforcement have been routine against the medical marijuana movement. California Attorney General Lungren sued Dennis Peron, the prime promoter of California's Prop. 215. The U.S. Justice Department prosecuted Ed Rosenthal, the long-time cultivation guru at High Times magazine on growing marijuana. When he grew medical marijuana for the city of Oakland, CA, the Feds prosecuted him. DEA clearly sees itself engaged in combat the political activity of the drug policy reform movement by using its enormous coercive power.

Consider that when DEA arrested Marc Emery, ostensibly for his drug crimes, it announced in its press release that it was a blow to the marijuana legalization movement.

We are very thankful that no one was injured in Billings in this incident.

But it seems to me that the community of drug policy reform activists has become so inured to political attack and law enforcement violence, that a violent criminal attack is not so noteworthy that it rouses our community to appropriately and vehemently protest.

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1 comment:

ChristMotForbud said...

Christians Against Prohibition mentioned it.

In fact, it could be said that Christians Against Prohibition predicted such things. Published 2009-04-23, Post-Prohibition Problems Predicted.

Christians Against Prohibition is at least national, there are more than a few members, including two LEAP luminaries; it could very well be international, but I've not forced people to divulge their whereabouts.