From Atlanta, here is an absolutely horrifying story about a no-knock SWAT raid when a flash-bang grenade was thrown into his crib and detonated, leaving the baby with severe burns and in a medically-induced coma. (See more on flash-bang grenades here and here.)
This is outrageous. There is literally not one single legitimate reason to conduct a no-knock raid using a paramilitary strike force in the middle of the night for a situation like this. SWAT should be used sparingly, for special situations where normal police response is not adequate for the task – for things like hostage situations, an active shooter, or a terrorist act. Paramilitary SWAT raids should not be used on idiots who are using and/or selling illegal drugs.
As infuriating as this is, forget the SWAT team. The police were doing their job, as defined by the politicians.
Do not blame the police. Blame the politicians.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama might as well have personally dropped the flash-bang grenade into the baby’s crib. They are all to blame for this. From the federal level to the local level, the guilty parties in this damnable crime are the politicians who have passed laws and implemented policies that have made the “solution” to the problem of drug use much worse than the problem of drug use itself. We are smashing spiders with sledgehammers.
All of the politicians, at all levels of government, of both political parties who have pushed the expansion of the increasingly literal War on Drugs are to blame for this atrocity. The politicians who have turned what should be a law enforcement action into an increasingly a literal war with military equipment and battlefield tactics are the ones who are guilty of this terrible crime against an innocent baby
The reason this abomination happened is because of public policy. This is because we have gone off the deep end in the War on Drugs, and we did that decades ago. In what rational world does it make sense to send a paramilitary strike force to raid someone’s home at 3:00 am because idiots are using/selling drugs? Did they even consider that there might be children in the home who could be seriously injured or killed as a result of the raid? Go to the druggies’ workplace and arrest them, or send some police officers to arrest them during the day.
If the druggies had weapons, police officers could have been killed too, because of this needlessly aggressive policy. If someone breaks down your door at 3:00 am with assault weapons and body armor and proceeds to set off an explosive in the middle of your living room, are you likely to assume that it is the police – in a raid designed to confuse and disorient the targets? Or are you likely to assume you are the victim of a home invasion by dangerous criminals and start shooting? Even if you know the attackers are police, when you see this happen to your child, are you likely to act out in a vengeance-fueled rage?
Yes, it is true that had the police went to his house and served a warrant for his arrest, the dealer might have opened fire on them. Of course, then he would be facing much more severe charges than drug dealing. He might have taken the children as hostages. (So setting off a grenade in a baby’s crib somehow better than the baby being a hostage?) If the dealer has a job, arresting him at work might put innocent bystanders at risk. But innocent bystanders were already put at serious risk – and an innocent baby suffered severe burns – by the police conducting an unnecessary and excessive no-knock paramilitary SWAT raid. No, there is no way to justify this.
Do we even live in America anymore? We are sending paramilitary strike forces to raid people’s homes at 3:00 am when there is no active danger – the only danger is created by the SWAT raid itself. Why did we bother fighting the Cold War for decades and spilling rivers of blood in Korea and Vietnam if we are going to voluntarily embrace a Communist form of government and become the Soviet Union?
End the War on Drugs. We are doing far more harm than good at this point, and we have for a long time.