Johnson Calls Drug War Root Cause of Police Shootings

Brett Linley

Libertarian Candidate Suggests Drug War Incentivizes Brutality

Following the string of lethal shootings directed both by and at police officers, many have rushed to point fingers. While politicians and pundits have continued perpetuating divisive rhetoric, Gary Johnson has a different perspective on the situation. “The root is the war on drugs, I believe. Police knocking down doors, shooting first,”

Per Politico, Johnson remarked that black people arrested for drug related crime are four times more likely to go to prison for it than white people. Ending the federal prohibition of marijuana and other drugs has been a longstanding plank in Johnson’s platform. With the tensions that have continually flamed up between the African American community and law enforcement, his analysis could be coming at the right time.

“I do believe that the root of the militarization, knocking on doors, is a drug war phenomenon,” he said. This argument certainly has merit to it. If people feel like they are going to be persecuted for victimless crimes by law enforcement, they’ll be more uneasy going into such interactions. If police feel like they’re going to face resistance in any given situation, they’ll be more likely to use force.

It’s a dangerous powder keg that has threatened to explode many times. The recent strife has made it all the more unstable. With police officers already carrying preconceived notions about how certain communities will act towards them, the brutal executions they faced in Dallas will only serve to reinforce them.

As police are given more militaristic tools to fight the “scourge” of illegal drugs, it’s only rational to believe that they’ll be incentivized to act like the military. With an already unequal distribution of justice directed at African American communities, there doesn’t seem to be any way that race relations improve through these incentives.

Johnson is taking positive steps to outline systematic issues with policies instead of people. It’s refreshing to see someone running for office suggest policies that expand rather than retract liberty in the face of a crisis. Instead of calling to ban certain types of weapons or give in to bashing law enforcement, Johnson recognizes that incentives coupled with an already high-stress job can lead to disastrous results.

Legalizing drugs may not be the cure all to ending police brutality, but it’s hard to argue that it wouldn’t be a step in the right direction. Without the mandate to focus on what people do with their own bodies, police officers could focus on solving real crime. If people don’t feel like they’re going to be executed in the streets for carrying marijuana, they may be more likely to comply with officers when they have to.

There’s no clear cut solution to these contentious issues. The only thing we can do for now is allow the country to heal, and hope for more politicians like Governor Johnson to stand up and deal with the real issues instead of partisan talking points. Most issues we face are better served with more, not less, liberty. Anyone who suggests otherwise should immediately be met with skepticism and turned away.


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