Newsbrief: Louisiana Drug Raid Draws Protests 1/3/03

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Heavy-handed law enforcement tactics in a Farmersville, LA, drug raid last month have led to street protests. About a hundred people marched through downtown Farmersville on December 21 to condemn FBI SWAT team tactics in a raid days earlier in which 10 members of one family were arrested on crack cocaine distribution charges. In the pre-dawn raid, heavily armed and armored FBI agents broke into several homes and frightened the entire community, local residents complained, adding that they did not believe the Nation family was guilty of drug trafficking.

"I see these people every day. They could have arrested them any time and any time. They are not violent, they're just normal people," protest organizer Shiela Lewis told the Associated Press. The family donated money for a school playground, she said. "Does that sound like a menace?"

It was the police that scared the community the night of the raid, said Melissa Nation, who was among the marchers. "Everybody was asleep in their beds, and they came in our neighborhoods to our homes and busted down doors and just destroyed everything in each person's home," she told the AP. "It was like a war zone. People were scared. One woman who lived a couple of houses down hasn't been back. She's too scared."

The FBI was unconcerned. Special Agent Cal Sieg told the AP agents must take precautions because drug dealers can be violent. The lightning raids with overwhelming force are necessary to decrease the chances anyone would get hurt, he said.

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Issue #270, 1/3/03 Editorial: Constitutional Inconveniences | Pressure for Change Mounts as Ontario Judge Rules Canadian Marijuana Possession Law Invalid 270/californiabudget Budget Crisis Forces California Governor to Consider Early Releases, Other Prison Measures | Prosecutors Enlist in Drug Czar's Anti-Marijuana Campaign -- Will Prioritize Marijuana Cases, Lobby Against Reform | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Connecticut Legislator to Reintroduce Medical Marijuana Bill | Newsbrief: Prosecutors Seize Bail Money, Claim Pot Smell -- A New Tactic? | Newsbrief: Louisiana Drug Raid Draws Protests | Newsbrief: France Looking to Heighten Marijuana Penalties | Newsbrief: NJ Weedman to Get Day in Federal Court After Months in Jail for Thought Crime | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Farmers Drive Out Eradicators | Newsbrief: Ethiopian Farmers Turn to Khat in Face of Drought, Low Coffee Prices | DC Job Opportunities at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar

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