Kathryn Johnston was a woman living in fear. Most of the time she lived alone at her rundown house in Atlanta, Georgia. It was one of the roughest neighborhoods in town; crime was a daily occurrence. Only recently a 72 year old woman had been raped in the area.
Last Tuesday night, three men battered down her door and forced their way into Kathryn Johnston’s home. In a desperate effort to defend herself she grabbed a gun and began firing. The men fired back, killing her.
She probably never lived long enough to learn these men were fighting the longest war in America’s history. A false war. Like most of the wars America has undertaken in recent years – an unwinnable war.
They call it the “War on Drugs.” The men were plain clothes law enforcement officers.
Atlanta’s Assistant Police Chief, Alan Dreher, called the killing “tragic and unfortunate” . Roughly translated into police language that means “inconvenient”. The police shun such adverse publicity. It brings criticism of their high-handed, thuggish, methods of fighting this unwinnable war. According to Mister Dreher, drugs were found on the premises. The police would not reveal the type until the lab had completed tests. This means the police didn’t know if what they found was really an illegal drug or not. Either that, or they were simply playing for time.
No-one in their right mind would suggest that the market in illegal substances is anything less than seedy, attracting the very worst of the criminal element. It would also be wrong to deny the police have a tough time trying to fight the crazy war thrust upon them by a moralistic public and self-righteous politicians.
As appears so often to be the case, America has yet again got its priorities about-face. Guns are legal and acceptable, drugs are not.
Were that situation reversed, Kathryn Johnston would still be alive and three police officers would not be in hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds she inflicted on them in her own self-defence; the neighborhood where Kathryn Johnston lived would not be laid waste by drug-related crime, and thousands of police officers nationwide would be freed to concentrate on crimes that presently are never solved due to shortage of man-power.
Fighting an unwinnable war is a frustrating business. It makes for heavy-handed methods. Such actions as occurred last Tuesday night do nothing for the nation’s self-image, or how it is perceived by the rest of the world.
Just as events in Iraq are forcing a rethink of American government policy, resulting almost certainly in a withdrawal of troops over time, so the “War on Drugs” – ongoing for over half a century – requires a drastic rethink and measures to decriminalize, thus forcing the illegal pushers out of business once and for all.
Perhaps then, poor unfortunates like Kathryn Johnston could stop living in fear of every knock on the door.
Filed under: War on drugs