Cannabis emerges as factor in Charlotte case

Posted on September 26th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

BlackLivesMatterThe police slaying of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte, NC, on  Sept. 20 set off days of angry protests and riots, ultimately resulting in a midnight curfew and mobilization of the National Guard to the city's streets. Protests stayed peaceful the night of Sept. 24, although a group of clergy and demonstrators defied the curfew to hold a prayer vigil outside the Charrlotte-Mecklenburg police headquarters, ABC reported. The curfew was finally lifted the next night, but the city remains tense. Police have just released body and dahsboard video footage of the fatal incident.

Slate now reports that cannabis possession played a role in the killing of Scott. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerry Putney said at a Sept. 24 news conference that officers were trying to serve a warrant for someone else when they spotted Scott rolling a small quantity of pot in his car. On closer inspection, they saw Scott had a weapon and thought, "uh oh, this is a safety issue for us and the public," Putney said.

An official police press statement similarly said the officers saw Scott rolling "what they believed to be a marijuana 'blunt'" before noticing the gun. “Due to the combination of illegal drugs and the gun Mr. Scott had in his possession, officers decided to take enforcement action for public safety concerns," the statement said. Scott's family and neighbors say he was unarmed.

In previous such cases—Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Michael Brown in Ferguson and Trayvon Martin in Sanford—pro-cop pundits have exploited the cannabis stigma to posthumously tarnish the reputation of the victim.

As the video in the Scott case is reviewed and the media assemble their narrative, the voices of cannabis advocates should be heard repudiating this irrational prejudice. Armed or not, Scott was minding his own business. Nobody deserves to die for rolling a blunt.

Cross-post to High Times

Graphic:  Checkin Trapps


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