by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Matthew Fogg, a former U.S. Marshal and Drug Enforcement Agent, speaks candidly in this video about his experience in the War on Drugs. Fogg says that he noticed that most of the drug raids that he set up were in urban areas, typically targeting people of color. Fogg said that most of the members of his team were white, which led him to ask the question that might only be asked by the black guy in the room: “Why aren’t we setting up raids in the suburban areas too?”
Fogg notes that African Americans aren’t the only ones using and selling drugs, yet most of us notice that the prisons are full of African Americans, the bulk of them there for drug distribution. He says that he was told to “stand down” on the matter and informed that doing drug raids in white neighborhoods would lead to political consequences for the agencies involved. He even said that the team would “lose their overtime.”
I appreciate the courage that Mr. Fogg showed by speaking so honestly on the issue. My father was a law enforcement official for 25 years, and I’ve heard similar stories myself. Also, as a college professor over the last 20 years, I can say that the amount of drug use on college campuses rivals nearly any urban neighborhood in America. In spite of this, I have yet to see the police raid any fraternity house on a Saturday night. So, for every person who believes that black men are filling the penitentiaries because we are the only ones committing crimes, you might want to get an education on the matter.
President Obama, are you listening? I hope that Congress is listening too, or any political figures who’ve received more than 80% of the African American vote. The War on Drugs has decimated the black family in America, leaving millions of children to grow up without their parents, all due to a set of federal policies that have been proven time and time again to be as racially-biased as those implemented during the Jim Crow era. It’s time to confront these policies, and make things right.
President Obama, as well as any Democrat on Capitol Hill who spent six months begging black people to stand in line for hours in order to vote, needs to do some or all the following (thanks to Political Science Professor Dr. Wilmer Leon for making these recommendations):
1) Call for a review of all cases in which individuals were sentenced under the old federal guidelines and re-sentence them accordingly. I’ve heard from families of men who’ve received over 14 life sentences for first time, non-violent drug distribution. This amounts to torture.
2) The president should form a federal task force to determine how many people have been affected by the old standards and make recommendations on how to correct the wrongs of the past.
3) President Obama must use his bully pulpit to speak on mass incarceration and the impact of the prison industrial complex, even noting the well-documented racial disparity. I know that President Obama might be afraid to tell America that he’s a black man, but it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.
4) The president should ask Attorney General Eric Holder to form a task force to provide recommendations on how to address this issue. From what I know about Eric Holder, he wants to do this. I encourage him to provide strong leadership on an issue that affects so many men like himself, even if Valerie Jarrett tells him not to.
The video (which is below) is a disgusting reminder of how many of those arrested for drug crimes are political prisoners. Black women today have difficulty finding husbands because so many men are in prison. Black children are missing critical mentors, and our community is falling apart at the seams for the numbers of men and women who’ve been hammered by the holocaust of mass incarceration. It’s one thing to make drug arrests, but when those policies so blatantly impact one segment of the population, we should all be outraged.
You can watch the video by clicking on this link.