Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (TFC)— In recent months, echoes of the opioid crisis throughout Milwaukee County have increasingly crept into the news. Each municipality is all too familiar with vague reports of heroin raids, fentanyl busts, and overdose clean ups. Whereas…
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (TFC)— With so little transparency inherent in police surveillance programs, some were excited to hear of Seaglass. The new technology–developed by University of Washington researchers–aimed to empower citizens to detect cell tower simulators. These shadowy devices, sometimes called…
The drug war’s casualties reach far beyond bloated penitentiary yards, fractured rehab facilities, and its own endless perpetuation. America’s opioid crisis, and its scale, is straining police, the policed, and the decades old rhetoric between them.
Heroin use and overdose in particular is climbing, indiscriminately rocking towns with barbaric fervor. Milwaukee Wisconsin is no stranger, nor its numerous nearby suburbs–like Wauwatosa. Perhaps now is the time for law enforcement to consider drug enforcement nuances cropping up elsewhere in the country.
“888 bodies and counting”, a morbid but fitting title to a recent report by Milwaukee’s alderman’s office. In 14 pages, the document presents detailed analysis of a overdose plague striking the city. “Milwaukee county alone has seen a 495% increase in heroin related deaths between 2005-2015”, it reads. As a point of perspective, Milwaukee’s opioid deaths, heroin and others, exceed deaths by car accidents and homicide.
In 2014, a Pew Research Center study revealed something perhaps viewed as impossible 10 years ago. Two-thirds of Americans felt that people shouldn’t be prosecuted for possession of heroin and cocaine. That trend has only spread, with even some police departments proposing radical new drug reforms. Seattle just raised the bar, however, and proposes safe spaces for addicts to use, and even get help.
City officials across the country are finding “radical” ideas like safe spaces more mainstream. Simply put, the body count of America’s opioid epidemic is ungodly staggering. In Gloucester, Massachusetts for example, police experimented with not sending addicts to jail. Instead, addicts are offered option to seek rehabilitation through it’s Angel Program.
Calm seems to follow each day break here in Milwaukee, the night’s chaos passing with it. That calm is deceptive, insidiously distracting from the night’s atmosphere. A mass catharsis grips the Northside nightly, and has wrought an ominous government presence. It is that presence which is perhaps most unnerving.
Funny how it sometimes takes military units being deployed for people to pay attention to a certain place. As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, I must confess a kind of angst having the entire world’s attention on us. Milwaukee has been rated one of the most segregated American cities, the fourth poorest and yet, only now the world is watching. As if the blaze’s violent brilliance were a beacon, drawing in all manner of onlookers.
Most are aware of the catalyst– that being yet another police shooting. That phrase is beginning to carry it’s own kind of morbid weight it seems,”yet another”. After Milwaukee officers pulled over a car, the occupants ran and police pursued. The runner, 23 year old Sylville K. Smith, allegedly carried a gun as he ran from officers who eventually fired. Police released few initial details, but did offer information on the shooting officer.
If you have a concern about any form over government overreach, the movement for police accountability is your fight. Even if you’ve never had a run in with law enforcement, it’s your fight. If you are concerned about the government removing your right to homeschool your children, it’s your fight. If you’re worried about forced vaccinations, it’s your fight. If you’re fighting for an end to prohibition, it’s your fight. If you want to keep your firearms, it’s your fight. If you want to aid the homeless or alleviate poverty, it’s your fight. If you want to stand against imminent domain, it’s your fight. It doesn’t matter what form of government overreach you want to end, it’s your fight.
It may seem difficult to connect some of these to the movement for police reform. All of these, indeed every single government regulation is enforced by the barrel of a gun. No matter how trivial the law, an infraction places you at the wrong of end of a cop’s gun. Even the act of feeding the homeless can in some areas put you seconds from death. When the police arrive and the person feeding the homeless resists having his rights violated, he will be shot. If he simply moves to quickly to pack up his kitchen utensils and the officer fears for his life because of the fork or knife, he will be shot.